I know people have a LOT of emotions about pelvic exams, most of which are negative, and those come from a lot of different places. I recently led a safe pelvic exam workshop and when prompted for one word that describes their emotions when heading in for a pelvic exam, these were some of the responses:
It’s my goal to make sure that once my patients come see me, they never feel this way again. Still, I can’t be the provider for every single person getting a pelvic exam, so here are some things you can ask/do to make your exams more comfortable.
Put the back of the table up when they leave for you to change, just like you see it in this picture. It won’t make a difference for the provider since your pelvis will still be at the same angle. This way you’re not flat on your back and you can make eye contact with them while they work.
Bring a mirror. Maybe you’re not interested in seeing your own cervix, but holding a mirror out over your knee gives you a chance to watch what they’re doing so you know what they’re going to do, what they’re going to use, and when they’re going to touch you.
Wear your own clothes. Those paper gowns are so dehumanizing. Feel free to wear your street clothes, so long as your provider can still get to the place they need to exam, otherwise it defeats the purpose. For example, if they have to do a breast exam, try wearing an oversized button up so that you can open the shirt up while they examine your breasts. If they’re only doing a pelvic exam, keep your top on.
Ask them to use the name and pronoun that you go by. There are a lot of old school doctors/midwives/nurse practitioners, but most of the time they’re willing to learn. I know it’s a lot to ask you, since you’re already living this life and you don’t want to be someone’s education, but consider it a gift to other nonbinary people who may come see this provider.
If you have been traumatized (and that can be ANYTHING), feel free to ask the provider if you can put your hand on top of theirs. That way you can guide the speculum/examining hand in at your own pace.
Pelvic exams are EXTREMELY OVERUSED and often UNNECESSARY and UNHELPFUL. Any time you are told that you will have a pelvic exam, ask:
Why do you need to do a pelvic exam?
Is there another way you can test for that?
What will you achieve by doing this?
Good luck everyone! Any questions? Providers - what do you do to make your patients more comfortable?
1. What’s your comfort fanfic or book? The one that you read and you happy sigh throughout or the end? What is the fanfic that is the closest to pizza? Hmm, I don’t really have…one…go-to book or fic for comfort—for me, reading in general is my go-to comfort. The Harry Potter books, or any of the Sherlock Holmes stories, might come closest. For fanfic….hmm, I think I’ve re-read all of verity-burns' stuff the most.
2) What’s the first song that comes to mind when you read this word—- Johnlock? Jesus Christ, SO MANY START PLAYING AT ONCE. ‘True Love’ by Pink, ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri, The Run and Go by 21 Pilots….
3) What or who makes you laugh consistently? These days, two of my really good friends who happen to be twins, and my kitten. 4) Do you have any pets? Names? I have my kitten Idris, and my dog Joey that I actually left behind in California w/ my grandma when I moved to NOLA (and hope to have brought out to me at some point). 5) You can ask your favorite actor one question. Who is the actor and what is the question? Benedict Cumberbatch. I’d ask him if he’s ever considered adoption, or ever would, what his thoughts on it are. 6) What is your proudest accomplishment from the past year? Moving out on my own, out of state, and landing my full-time job.
7) Favorite cocktail? Midori sour
8) Do you have a battle dress/outfit? Not really
9) What’s your favorite old tv show or movie (by old it has to be from the 70s or earlier)? Doctor Who
10) What piece of art makes you happy? Anything by Van Gogh, as a general rule.
11) Favorite episode of television (of all time) Show/Episode? Shiiiiiiiiit, I don’t fucking know. How do you choose something like that? Of Doctor Who, probably Vincent and the Doctor. Of Sherlock, The Sign of Three. Those are the clearest decisions I can make in regards to aaaaaaaaaaaall the shows I’ve loved and watched over the years. It’s terribly difficult for me to make decisions like that, haha.
so my boyfriend and I tried roleplaying the other day and we did the whole “professor and bad student who needs to pass” thing, only he wanted to be the professor, so I had to be the horny and failing student. I’m the valedictorian of my senior class of 400 and I have a horrible phobia of flunking, so when he whispered “you’re failing my class, you naughty girl” in my ear, I started crying and we had to stop
"So how do you catch a fish that isn’t hungry?" "Change your tactics. Use live bait that moves and excites them to action. You gotta make him bite even though he’s not hungry." […] "Make a wrong move, he swims away?" "I’m a good fisherman, Jack.”