Performing gynecological exams is one of the most important preventative exams that I know of. Certainly right up there with breast exams. This exam is performed every year or few years depending on the latest information, risk factors, need, and much more. Some women feel no anxiety while others would prefer to have all their teeth pulled out. As you would largely expect many of these exams could be described as unpredictable gynecological exams.
Some patients prefer women providers for the exam while others prefer male providers. And even others don’t have a preference at all. I’ve heard that some women providers can be too rough and some men to delicate. Regardless, a gynecological exam is very private and for some people, it can be overwhelming. Finding the right person, if possible, is essential for some women.
There are some patients who are extremely nervous about the examination while others are somewhat carefree. The differences can be quite startling. Obviously, there are many reasons why someone would be nervous about this type of exam. Our office tries to reassure each and every patient. I’ve been performing gynecological exams for years and have many stories. One individual, in particular, was quite funny and unexpected.
The patient hadn’t been to see me in a few years. She was always super nervous about this particular exam. She was so nice. She called our front office and set up an appointment. She arrived fifteen minutes early, sat in her car for twenty minutes, came up to our door and back to her car. She finally walked into our office thirty minutes late.
The nurses brought her back to the exam room and she was fidgeting and avoiding eye contact the entire time. She remained polite but withdrawn. Inside the exam room, her blood pressure was very high. She was sweating, uncomfortable, and anxious.
After the screening portion of the assessment, my nurse asked her to get undressed and she left the room. A few minutes later, I came in.
Mrs. Blankton was pacing back and forth half undressed. She had a gown but still had on her jeans. She was also talking with herself, sort of psyching herself up for the exam. I could hear her and smiled when I came in. When she saw me, her face turned bright red.
I told her to sit down and just talk to me. We went over her medications, her menstrual periods, her pregnancy history, and such. My goal was to calm her down. It worked and didn’t work. She certainly calmed down, until it came time for the exam. Logically she understood that she needed the exam. Emotionally she wasn’t so sure. Again, this is pretty common.
She made excuses about smells, shaving, and much more. Again, very common. And in most cases, most providers don’t worry about any of these issues and more. We try at all times to be as professional as possible. I called in my nurse to assist. Mrs. Blankton undressed and quickly wrapped the gown around her legs and lay on the exam table.
My nurse got everything prepared and I continued to talk and encourage Mrs. Blankton. I was standing next to her so she could see me. Finally, it was time for the exam. I sat on my stool, the necessary items in hand, and glanced up. I let out a loud laugh that I could not control. It was so embarrassing that I laughed, but I couldn’t help myself.
Without stopping, I continued with the exam and finished. Mrs. Blankton shot up to get dressed, she was so red in the face.
I said, “Before you get dressed, can we talk.”
Mrs. Blankton, in a highly anxious voice, said, “Is everything alright?”
I said, “Yes of course.”
Mrs. Blankton asked, “Then why did you laugh?”
I asked, “Did you spray something?”
She said, “I was so nervous about the smell, that I grabbed my daughter’s perfume. Is that why you laughed?”
I said, “I see. Well, there’s one problem though. That was glitter spray make-up that you sprayed and not perfume. You were sparkling.”
Mrs. Blankton was mortified. But in the end, she laughed pretty well about it. I’ve seen her several times since then, and she’s had no problems with any further gynecological exams. I guess, she made it through the “worse case scenario” and has been anxious free each time.