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SMiNKLe
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Member # 37610

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Ok so now that I'm 18 I fear that my mom will be taking me to the OB/GYN any time now.. And not only am I terrified, but I'm not sure if I should tell my doctor that I'm a lesbian or if this is even relevant information. I've read somewhere that the doctor should know, but I'm not sure if that's true and that was only one source that has even mentioned it because every other site assumes you're going to have sex with boys. If it's not medically relevant, then I don't think she needs to know. I'm not sexually active (never have been), but if I am in the future will she need to know this? Another reason I'm unsure about this is because my parents don't know and my mom works at the doctor's office and is life-long friends with every nurse and doctor there (it's a medium-sized office). But that scares me because even though they're supposed to have doctor-patient confidentiality, I don't think that applies to your orientation. Plus, I live in conservative Texas and I'm also worried that the doctor will assume I'm going through a phase and don't know what I'm talking about.

So my question is, is this relevant information she needs to know for the exam even if I'm not currently or ever have been sexually active (with any gender)?? And if it is relevant, can she keep it a secret from my mother? And is she allowed to tell the other nurses or doctors? I don't want to go for my next doctor's appointment and find they're all staring at me as if they know all of my secrets...

Thanks in advance. I won't even begin to describe how terrified I am of the exam because of my anxiety problems, even if the decision to come out to my doctor wasn't an issue for me. [Eek!]

[ 02-18-2009, 10:34 PM: Message edited by: SMiNKLe ]

Posts: 6 | From: Texas | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
eryn_smiles
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Hi SMiNKLe [Smile]

Firstly, what's your biggest fear about seeing a GYN? Have you read this?
Your First Gynecologist Visit
Do you have anxiety issues in general? What kind of help have you gotten for those?

If you have never been sexually active before, and are not currently having any symptoms such as painful or irregular periods, you may not even need a pelvic exam during this visit. It may just be a chat with the doctor about your health.

My opinion is that it is useful for a doctor to know about your sexual orientation, even if you're not yet sexually active with other people. They'll be able to give you preventative health advice for the future that is relevant and specific for a lesbian (eg. about using dental dams for oral sex). Our sexual orientation and feelings about it can sometimes significantly impact our mental health; its important for doctors to be sensitive about that as well. Its also just an important part of a patient's "social history"- knowing about issues such as relationships, family problems, stuff happening at school or in a living situation can all help the doctor treat you as an individual.

In the end, it's up to you. You do not have to tell them. You may wish to tell them on your second visit, rather that the first time you meet them. If you suspect they are homophobic or will be insensitive, I would not tell them. In fact, I would find a different doctor. It's also understandable that seeing a friend of your mother could be uncomfortable for you. Are you able to visit a different office at all?

Do know that your doctor has a responsibility to treat your sexual orientation with respect. They certainly should not tell you that you're going through a phase (whether or not you live in Texas!). Doctor-patient confidentiality DOES apply to sexual orientation. It applies to everything you tell a doctor, excepting some situations, such as if you were at immediate risk of harming yourself. Even then, they should inform you that they needed to break the confidentiality to protect your safety.

It does not matter whether the doctor is a family friend. They cannot disclose your orientation to your mother. In some situations, the doctor may disclose some information to other healthcare professionals in their practice. But these should only be people who are also involved in caring for you, such as their nurse. And they are also bound by confidentiality.

Healthcare professionals should never stare at you "as if they know all of your secrets". Its part of their job (and a real privilege) to see people during the vulnerable times of their lives and to be sensitive about it. And if you think about it, everyone in that office will have their own secrets. Some will be survivors of rape and abuse. Some will have terminated pregnancies. Some may have issues with their sex drive or with painful intercourse or with their mental health. Those kinds of issues will be everyday things to people who work in a GYN office.

[ 02-19-2009, 02:42 AM: Message edited by: eryn_smiles ]

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"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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SMiNKLe
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I've read the article a couple times, but I'm still afraid of the whole thing, in general, and of having the nurse see my body and ask me uncomfortable questions. I don't like having others see my body because I feel like I'm being violated and because I have body image issues, and I hope that the doctor won't be able to notice that. I also have anxiety issues but haven't gotten help for them yet. I'm also afraid that the high stress and anxiety of being there will make me want to cut or scratch myself again because that's how I have released it in the past. I don't want the nurse to see my past scars that are on my knee, so is it possible to ask for a blanket during the exam or is she going to see them? I've had terrifying dreams that she will see them and tell my mom that she is concerned, because my mom and I don't talk about it and I'm not ready to. So in a sense I'm afraid of both the nurse and my own anxiety, but I know I have to go through with it.

I don't think I'm ready to tell the doctor if it's not necessary for them. Before I have sex I will do my own research about safe practices. I think the nurse that normally does the exam is a nice person, but I'm just concerned because I don't know what to expect so my mind is inventing scenarios that are scaring me. I'm not sure if she is homophobic, but I don't think she's disrespectful.

Thanks for the information. This has helped me be a little less worried about it.

Posts: 6 | From: Texas | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KittenGoddess
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You know, there's nothing wrong with just telling the doctor or nurse that you're nervous and asking them to try to accommodate you. Anxiety about pelvic exams is not at all unusual, so please don't think you'll be the only person they've ever seen who's nervous. If you let them know ahead of time, then they can try to help you feel more comfortable. You don't even have to tell them specifically about the scars, etc. I'd suggest just saying, "This is my first exam and I am pretty nervous about others seeing my body and having the exam. Can you please be aware of this and tell me what's happening as you examine me?" You can also ask the doctor to explain the exam in detail before you ever even take your clothes off. Again, please don't feel like telling that you are anxious or showing your anxiety is going to somehow "give you away". What you are expressing is really common, so nobody is going to think anything of it. I think they'd probably rather know that you are anxious so that they can work with you than have you be so fearful. Another idea might be to call ahead of time and ask the nurse to describe the visit to you in detail. That way you could ask about being covered, etc. when you are not face-to-face, if that is worrying you as well.

I've never had a gyn exam where I've ever been asked to be fully naked at any given time. Typically, you'll have a gown and a sheet to put across your lap/legs. You'll move only the top part of your gown aside for the breast exam and then you will keep the sheet across your lap and legs the entire time, even in the stirrups. I don't think there's any reason for any part of your legs to be uncovered.

Is there someone you could take with you who might help you feel safer? Maybe a friend or a relative?

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Sarah Liz

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SMiNKLe
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Member # 37610

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Okay thanks, I think it helps me to know a little more about what is going to happen. Also that's a good idea about bringing someone to help me, I'll think about it. [Smile]
Posts: 6 | From: Texas | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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