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Women's Health

Is There A Way to Get Over This Fear?

12/14/2009

Question:

Okay, I have not had a gyn exam in 20 years. I know this is bad and I probably should have one. I am 57. The thing is, I just really can`t stand the thought of having the dr touching me "down there." I know that is not normal, but I just can`t bring myself to do it. Are there drs that specialize in patients who are overly fearful (kind of like dentists who cater to cowards)? Can they give me something so I at least don`t remember it after the fact, even if I`m not asleep when they do it? Thanks.

Answer:

What a good question. Many women do not like to have female exams and this is not uncommon. I'd suggest several things.

One, seek out a Women's Health or Family Nurse Practitioner. Nurse Practitioners are especially skilled in working with women who have concerns about the exam. They are very well-educated, extremely competent, and helpful.

If there are no NPs in your area, you need to call several offices and find out if there are physicians who will agree to take some extra time with you to help you through the exam. Ask some of your friends and colleagues about their experiences; sometimes they can be very helpful in finding someone who is gentle and understanding.

Third, whomever you choose for the exam, be sure to ask for some medication that you can take prior to the exam that will relax you and help you to take the experience in stride.

Now the hard part. If you have a history of being abused or hurt, especially in a sexual manner, you need to tell the practitioner that BEFORE the exam so that there is good understanding of your issues. These issues are nothing to be ashamed of. If you were hurt, it's not your fault. If you tell the practitioner what your experience was, then the practitioner can go a long way to making the experience better for you.

All the best to you and hope this helps!

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Response by:

Elizabeth R Barker, APRN, BC, FNP, FAANP, CHE, PhD Elizabeth R Barker, APRN, BC, FNP, FAANP, CHE, PhD
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University