BOSTON, MA — No matter how many pelvic examinations a woman has,
it's unlikely she'll ever feel at ease about being asked to place her
feet up in metal stirrups. Still, the stirrups position is thought to
afford the best view of the vulvovaginal area and facilitate proper
placement of exam instruments. According to the findings of a new
study, however, there may be an acceptable, less vexing alternative,
reports the October 2006 issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch.
a randomized trial of stirrups versus no stirrups for routine
gynecological exams, researchers found that women who were allowed to
keep their feet on the examining table felt significantly more
comfortable than those whose feet were placed in stirrups. The study
also demonstrated that it's possible to perform pelvic exams and obtain
Pap smears-important screening tests for cervical cancer-without using
For some women, feelings of
exposure, discomfort, or even pain during exams are potential barriers
to getting gynecological care. Having the no-stirrups option might
encourage more women see their doctors regularly for Pap smears.
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