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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » Question about pap exam

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Author Topic: Question about pap exam
Member # 7348

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I went in to my school's clinic yesterday and I had a slightly weird experience. I'm kind of wondering if I was just overreacting.

This was my first pap/gyno exam, and so I was already pretty nervous when I went in. :P

I had a nurse doing the exam, and the school doctor presiding. When the doctor came in, as he said hello he just grabbed my upper thigh, which I thought was pretty weird. After that, he kept mentioning how pretty my red hair and blue eyes are... I'm not one to complain about a compliment, but under the circumstances it felt a little odd. Then, as we're talking about my health, he grabs my breasts without warning, and really manhandles them. I realise a breast exam is part of the checkup, but his manner was just... creepy. He wasn't terribly helpful either: when I asked him what to do about my drop in libido due to being on the pill he just said "Well, get off the pill."

The exam itself was amazingly painful, but I keep hearing it tends to be that way, so that isn't my main concern.

My question is, should I complain to the school about this guys behavior? Or is it just a case of really really bad bedside manner? I came away just feeling really violated, and it's going to take a lot for me to go and do this again next year.


Posts: 3 | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cute Katie
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I'm not an expert on this sort of thing, but here is my opinion.

There was not any reason for your doctor to grab your upper thigh or tell you how pretty you are. You are in a professional medical setting, so that kind of behavior is unacceptable. Wouldn't it be weird if you were in some corporate meeting and your boss says to you, "Your red hair and blue eyes are very pretty."? If he grabbed your upper thigh to check for something, well, that's expected. But if he just grabbed it when saying hello, then that's inappropriate.

During my pelvic exam, my (female) doctor told me exactly what she was going to do before she did it. So before she checked my breasts for lumps, etc., she told me she was going to. It sounds to me like your doctor was taking advantage of the situation and trying to get pleasure out of it. I may be jumping to conclusions here, but the way you described the breast part of the exam, it just sounds so WRONG!

I am so sorry to hear that your exam was painful... it really shouldn't be. Mine didn't hurt at all, but I'm going to guess yours did because you were nervous and uncomfortable because of the doctors' actions.

I definitely recommend complaining about this guys' behavior. Even if it's "okay" for him to treat you that way, the fact that you were uncomfortable and felt violated should definitely be a concern.

As for his lack of help, he shouldn't just tell you to go off the pill. He should recommend a different pill, or some other form of contraception. Saying "just go off the pill" isn't much of a help, as you said.

I recommend finding a new doctor. Is there another gynecologist or doctor you could go to at your school? What about Planned Parenthood? You should feel comfortable with your doctor, not violated.

Again, I'm not an expert, so I may be wrong on some of this stuff. But I hope this helped! :-)


AIM: Amethyst95

Posts: 59 | From: Michigan, USA | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Doctors often have different ways of dealing with their patients. Your doctor may have just been trying to put you at ease when he complimented you.

Doctors also can forget that their patients are having a first exam, and my not realize you don't know what's coming next. A breast exam is a very important part of the checkup, and doctors need to use a semi-firm touch to make SURE you are free of lumps, etcetera. And as for the painful part of your exam, did you tell him you were in pain? Doctors are not mindreaders, and need your guidance to help you to be comfortable.

Your doctor could have been rushed, or had a lot of patients on his waiting list.

The nurse was there to make sure the doctor was not mistreating you in any way. Next time you have an exam, ask your doctor to tell you what he is doing and why each step of the way. He's there to help you; he will listen.

All in all, while your feeling of violation are valid, I do not think your doctor was trying to intentionally violate you. It sounds like he has a straightforward, no-frills manner, and this just does not mesh well with your personality. You should do some looking around to find a doctor who better suits you, and one with whom you feel more comfortable.

As for the compliment being "unacceptable", would you feel it was "unacceptable" coming from a female doctor? It is indeed a professional medical setting; however, making compliments and small-talk are a way that many doctors try to make their patients feel more like people than faceless names on a chart. My gynecologist asked if I use condoms, and when I told her I do, she said, "You're so beautiful and intelligent that I know you'll continue using them and have no trouble finding partners." Then she winked. This is just her way; I have come to expect little jokes like that because I have seen her many times. If I didn't like it, I would tell her to stop or just find another physician.

So, to sum up. It's perfectly OK to feel the way you feel. You just had a Bad Doctor Experience, and this guy's bedside manner wasn't the type you go for. Find another doctor you can better identify with, or tell this doctor next time you see him that you didn't appreciate his behavior and he made you feel uncomfortable.

Posts: 1287 | From: Missouri | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Personally, I think it sounds like he behaved in an incredibly unprofessional manner. And I would never go back to any doctor who acted like that.

If I were in your shoes, I'd definitely complain to whoever's in charge of this guy, and then find someone else to take care of my reproductive health. As Katie said, Planned Parenthood clinics are always a good option, and I've never heard any bad stories about the people they have on staff there.

Also, if the doctor/midwife/etc is being gentle, pelvic exams and pap smears really should not be painful. Check out this article for more information, if you haven't already read it: Your First Gynecologist Visit


Kythryne Aisling
Scarleteen Advocate

"The only unnatural sexual act is that which you cannot perform."
-- Alfred Kinsey

[This message has been edited by kythryne (edited 03-13-2002).]

Posts: 1685 | From: New York City | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 7348

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I did, yes, tell the doctor it was painful. The nurse performed that part of the exam though. The doctor's response was that no one liked getting exams. And I did say it was my first exam
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Member # 7348

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Quick post script:

I'll be moving to the Salt Lake region very soon for University. Can anyone recommend a good ob/gyn in that area?

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Member # 5036

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I'd start with Planned Parenthood in Salt Lake City:

Salt Lake Health Center
654 South 900 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84102
(801) 322-5571

Your University will also have a health center, and you may have a better experience with a different practitioner there.

Hope this helps,

Posts: 848 | From: London, UK | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 50396

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[Edited: To say I am extremely uncomfortable with what was posted here, particularly as both a survivor of rape and an advocate for rape survivors AND women's healthcare, is an understatement. I also find is particularly disconcerting to have had this posted by an older man at a forum for young people, telling women what he feels is and isn't appropriate for our bodies, including statements about what women he would date or marry based on having received reproductive healthcare. Please do not post this again here. Thank you. - HC]

[ 12-03-2010, 12:48 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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I hope that you find someone much better in Salt Lake. I would not go back to that particular doctor again, and I would lodge a complaint. At the very least, he was incredibly unprofessional, and given that he is dealing with young women in a vulnerable situation on a daily basis, people should know about it.

I also just want to say that I don't think that you're feeling uncomfortable in the situation is "wrong" or you being oversensitive. That does not sound like a normal exam to me at all.

Different people have different feelings about the exam, and I can't speak to everyone's experience. However, I know that while I find it to be uncomfortable, I have never found it to be painful, let alone "amazingly painful." That sounds off to me, and like either the nurse was clueless about how to do an exam or just didn't care. The breast exam also doesn't sound like any of my experiences; my doctor has always told me when she was going to do the breast exam, and I've never felt manhandled. His comments about how pretty you are and his grabbing your thigh also seem off to me. The fact that he didn't even address your concerns about the birth control is also troubling.

Personally, I would report him. He doesn't sound professional, and he actually sounds rather predatory to me. At any rate, I do not think that you have that kind of experience to look forward to every time you see a GYN.

Posts: 22 | From: Earth | Registered: Nov 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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(Just FYI, folks, this post was from 2002. Chances are very good this user is seriously long gone by now.)

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 49815

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Oh, whoops. Sorry, I didn't see the date-stamp.
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