Pelvic Exams: can we talk?

For the past few weeks, we've asked you to tell us about your experiences
in the stirrups. You told us about funny moments like the speculum
getting stuck or even being shot out like a projectile. You also told
us about moments of discomfort, embarassment, even shame. Thanks for
sharing your thoughts.

I wasn't surprised to hear your feedback. What may surprise you is
just how uncomfortable and stressed out some doctors are about this most intimate of physical exams. Surprising, since docs have had centuries to get over their embarassment.

Doctors have been doing pelvic exams since roughly 800 years before the
time of Hippocrates. This vaginal instrument, called a dioptra, that was found in the ruins at Pompei.

vaginalspec-sm.jpg

Throughout the centuries, the emphasis has been on doing the pelvic and getting it over with.
What I've learned from this show is that women and their doctors also need to talk about it.

If you've had pain or discomfort during a previous exam, tell your doctor, even if he or she doesn't ask. Same goes if you've had past traumas that make the pelvic a difficult experience to go through.

Nurses, midwives and doctors need to encourage and welcome these conversations. And this may be controversial, but I also think health professionals should also come clean with whatever makes them uncomfortable about pelvics.

You'll hear more of this on our show Monday. I'd love to hear what you think.


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