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Harvard Health Blog
When a pelvic exam is traumatic
- By Huma Farid, MD, Contributor
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
As suggested in another comment, burden shouldn’t be placed on the victim. As a survivor of sexual assault, I don’t always want to talk about it. Diagnosing vaginismus was traumatizing in itself. Childbirth was also traumatizing when nurses and the OB didn’t understand what vaginismus was, how it is made worse with anxiety, and how little control one has. Point being, it should be patient centered care. Women aren’t “being dramatic” and the more doctors who understand this and take the time to ask questions, listen, and believe the responses, the better.
This is important to note; however, true trauma-informed care starts NOT with a burden placed on the trauma survivor to disclose and request special treatment, but with providers being trained to ask patients where their boundaries are, what they’re comfortable with, and how they’d like to proceed.
35 years ago almost to the date, I was raped, I have PTSD, at age 27 partial hysterectomy and once recovered never had a pap smear since. I am now 61 years old having pain around the pelvis and pubic bone, I also know I have a small umbilical hernia. There has to be other ways to check my ovaries than doing a pelvic exam, can they not do an MRI, CT scan or even an ultrasound. I soon will be seen in the women’s health clinic you can bet all your money that this Veteran will no undergo a pelvic exam unless they want to admit me into the hospital and put me to sleep. I would also be willing to guess that I am not the only one that feels this way.
hey! here’s a documentary about transforming pelvic exams through AI at Duke University
#CervicalCancer #CervicalHealthMonth #feminism #health #gofundme #documentary #globalhealth #WomensHealth #SmearForSmear
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