The Pelvic Exam II
In thinking about what I wrote, I would still say that about 90% of the pelvic exams I have done to this point were not pleasant experiences. But maybe that’s because most of them were done in the ED. I had FAR more exams there than I did on GYN. Maybe one on GYN. Maybe 5 in a month of family medicine. But easily 1 a day in the ED. And maybe I dislike them because when you are having this exam done in the ED, its usually not a healthy check up. But its part of the job, so you do it, all while trying to make the whole thing as easy as you can for both yourself and the patient.
And looking back, the one place in medical school that I was actually worried about doing pelvic exams was on Labor & Delivery. I couldn’t imagine any women wanting a male med student all up in her business during childbirth. But I was completely surprised that not a single mom to be had a problem with it, regardless of what number birth this was for them or their age. And I fully believe it was because I had a chance to be in the room for a while first, to get to know them a bit and show that I cared about what was going on. The complete opposite of what it was like in planned parenthood, where I just kinda snuck in there unannounced and poked around a bit. Whereas on OB, the women were often joking telling me to get in there and don’t be shy. My favorite patient on OB was this young women probably 20 years old. She was VERY shy at first, wanting me up at the head of the bed when the intern would examine her. It ended up being a false labor, but they came back for the real deal a few nights later. She and her husband were glad to see a friendly face and because I had established rapport with them before, she was all about having me involved this time. She actually requested that I come out of a C-section to help deliver her baby boy and she ended up being the first mom that I delivered solo (granted the attending was 2 inches away, but I did the whole thing). It was one of my favorite experiences from med school and one of the few times where it was actually felt right to be “all up in her business” haha.
I guess the point of this is as well, if you are a female patient, please don’t worry more than you have to about having a male doctor do a pelvic exam. I think I speak for most of us when I say we don’t want to be there any more than you want us there. We’re doing everything we can to not look, to get it over with as soon as possible. We don’t want it to hurt you or to make you feel weird in any way, because that makes US feel weird and uncomfortable. I know those stirrups are uncomfortable. I actually got my own butt up there one day just to see what its like. It wasn’t pleasant and I was fully clothed. I can only imagine what its like for you. When we formally learned how to do them third year, I remember being told “If you can come away from this being able to do it and keep a neutral face, it will have been a complete success” (and not look like the guy below during the exam)