Your Response to our Show on Pelvic Exams

One of the missions of White Coat, Black Art is to tackle subjects some feel skittish about -- none moreso than pelvic examinations. A gynecological examination is a critical part of womens' health; it's use to detect such things as cervical cancer, ovarian cysts and tumors, not to mention sexually transmitted diseases. That said, the pelvic is an intimate exam that for some women -- not to mention some doctors -- is steeped in ambivalence and shame.

On Saturday, July 19th, we re-broadcast our show on the pelvic exam. Then, we heard from you! I thought I'd put a few of your comments on this edition of our blog. In some cases you've asked that your name be witheld. In others, we've decided to do so ourselves:

Margaret Patterson writes " For the first time we have a program that deals with the real issues and experiences every day people have with the health care system. Yesterday's program on the taboo subject of pelvic examinations was a case in point. It was fascinating to hear the perspectives of doctors and women about this everyday health care experience which I have never heard discussed on the air before. Well done."

Michelle Cordy of London, Ontario writes "What a great show! I've never heard the word vagina so many times in a half hour. It was especially interesting to hear the doctor's perspecive on pelvic exams. Well done!"

That was one of our main missions: to reduce the stigma of the words associated with gynecological exams.

Some of you shared your experiences with pelvic exams. Here's one from a listener on Georgian Bay. " I am 62 and when I was growing up, the topic was almost totally forbidden. On the subject of male vs. female gynecologists, I would like to share an experience from years ago. My Mother, and many other females in our acquaintance, drove 50 miles to be examined yearly by a woman gynecologist. As a young woman, I began going to her too. On one occasion, I missed my appointment, and was told that I would have to wait a year for another one. I decided instead to go to our local male GP, and have never looked back. He was 10 times more gentle and considerate. Now that was many years ago, and not all female gynecologists can be judged by that one, but there is something to be said for treading softly in a less- than- familiar place."

My favorite email comes from a woman who lives in Barrie, Ontario. "Thanks so much for your show on gynocology and in particular the difficulties realized in relation to pelvic exams. It's the first accurate, shameless and all-encompassing show I've ever heard on the subject and I found it a breath of fresh air. I particularly appreciated hearing the physician's point of view. After several years of shying away from a pelvic exam at a time in my life
where I should be getting them frequently, I have decided after hearing your show to get ready to raise the skirt, so to speak."

Thank all of you for writing in. I've heard from far too many women who are not asking for pelvics, and physicians being reluctant to do them. We need to end the shame. If, after hearing this show, even one woman decides she's going to insist on having it done, it will have been worthwhile.

If you missed it, the show is available as a podcast. Click on the link above.

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