Posted on: 22 August 2019
Tragically, sexual assault occurs every 92 seconds in the United States. If you've been the victim of such a heinous and invasive attack, the last thing you may want to do is to allow a doctor to examine you on a personal level. Just the thought of being exposed and touched might be enough to make you want to run; however, a pelvic exam can actually save your life through the early detection of cancer. It can also help you successfully have a baby if that's something in your foreseeable future.
Despite your attack, you have to bring yourself to undergo these exams, one way or another.
Talk To A Counselor
Because a pelvic exam is so important to your health, you really need to get them on an annual basis. It's only natural that you'd be hesitant to allow anyone, including an OBGYN, to examine you on such a personal level; thus, if you're feeling particularly resistant, talk to a counselor or bring the matter up with one you're already seeing, so you can prepare yourself to go for the pelvic exam.
Jot Down Your Concerns And Questions So You Don't Forget Them
You'll likely be nervous at the appointment and could forget any questions you want answered or concerns you may have, especially after your assault. Jot these things down as you think of them, then bring the list with you to the appointment.
Schedule A Practice Visit
If you're completely overwhelmed by the thought of undressing and being examined, try scheduling a practice visit. You can go, keep all of your clothes on, and simply talk to the OBGYN, perhaps reading from your list of questions. The doctor will explain everything you can expect at the "real" appointment, hopefully alleviating at least some of your concerns.
Ask Your OBGYN To Allow Extra Time For Your Real Appointment
You do not want to be rushed during your pelvic exam, so ask the doctor or appointment scheduler to give you extra time for your examination. Remember to take some deep breaths and remind yourself how important this examination is to your short- and long-term health. Pelvic exams can detect issues early, leading to more effective treatment. Taking more time to get ready may make it easier to deal with what will happen during the actual exam, including the following:
- An examination of your reproductive organs (vagina, ovaries, cervix, etc.), which includes the insertion of the OBGYN's hand/fingers into your body to check for abnormalities
- A quick look (and finger poke) at your rectum
- A speculum being placed into your cervix, so a cellular sample can be extracted (the Pap smear)
Request Another (Female) Attendant Be In The Room
It's perfectly within your rights as a patient and certainly as a sexual assault survivor to request that a second female medical professional be in the room during your exam. Many people make this request, including those who've never been assaulted. You can even ask that the second attendant stand by the door or behind you or hold your hand the whole time.
Have A Friend Or Close Relative Go With You
If you're okay having someone you know in the exam room, doing that may provide even more comfort than a nurse or other health practitioner. Your best friend, sister, or mom could go and talk you through the more personal aspects of the pelvic exam, prompting you to be strong.
Being a survivor, especially of sexual assault, is more difficult than most people can imagine, but it also means becoming stronger and moving forward with your life. Part of helping yourself heal is doing the right thing for your body, including having the pelvic exams you'd really, really rather avoid. Talk to your doctor and talk to a counselor because seeing people who care about your well-being is part of being a survivor, too.
Reach out to a clinic such as Naples OB-GYN to learn more about the process and how to improve your personal experience.Share