Psychological Harms of Pelvic Exams

There is a lack of research on the harmful psychological effects of pelvic exams.  The lack of research highlights how the harmful effects from pelvic exams have largely been ignored, or have been considered not important enough to warrant investigation.  The small amount of research that exists has mainly been conducted with the goal of addressing women’s “anxieties” with the exam, and has been done for the sole purpose of learning how to harness women’s compliance.

In spite of the lack of recognition given to the psychological harms of pelvic exams by the medical community, many of us do experience harm.  Many of the comments from women on this blog and on other sites have revealed that the psychological effects are often significant and can have a detrimental impact on our lives.  In addition, the psychological effects can be difficult to understand, clarify, and articulate.  This post is a compilation of my own and other women’s experiences of pelvic exams presented in a way that attempts to clarify an issue that warrants more attention.

Psychological Harm #1: Trauma

A woman’s first pelvic exam can be traumatizing, especially if she is unaware of the exam’s invasive nature and/or is coerced into the exam while seeing her doctor for a different reason.  In these cases the woman is unprepared and is not expecting an invasive exam to take place.  In addition, many doctors do not fully explain what the exam involves, explain the reasons for the exam, or offer the woman a choice prior to proceeding.

Here is what one woman has to say about her first pelvic exam:  It’s humiliating, degrading, and painful. The first time I had a pap smear done, I was so traumatized, I now have to take prescription Xanax to avoid having panic attacks when I get pap smears done now. And I’m only 24. How many more am I going to have to have for the rest of my life? What am I going to do when I want to have children and every doctor wants to shove his/her fingers and tools inside me? (Scared Guest)  via Women Against Stirrups – What’s your opinion on the pelvic exam/gynecology?.

Psychological Harm #2: Loss of Control

I can think of no position more vulnerable and undignified than naked with legs wide apart, feet up in stirrups, and a fully clothed doctor standing over me.  Feelings of vulnerability and a loss of control in this position are intensified when I am asymptomatic and do not wish to have a pap test/pelvic exam – but have been aggressively pressured and coerced to the point where I feel I have no choice.

Here is another woman’s thoughts on loss of control and vulnerability:  I am 21 and today i went for my first smear..UGHH i freaked out, cried and had to leave with a vicodin prescription…which is pretty straaaaight. but, the point of my frustration is that I, like you, feel as though i am being violated, and sexually assaulted. I feel overly anxious due to the vulnerability of the situation . . . Its not even like ive never had sex. it is just that i have trouble being prodded and fingered by a metal prong. (Anonymous)  via Awkward Things My Mother Never Taught Me: Just How Violating a Pap Smear Really Is….

Psychological Harm #3: Dissociation

Women have been led to believe that a pelvic exam is a vital part of their health for so long that many no longer question it, or feel they have a choice.  When a woman feels she has no choice but to undergo a violently invasive exam she will often develop a sense of detachment, or numbness, in an effort to distance herself from what is happening to her own body.

Here is what Claire T. Porter has to say:  “Closely connected with the absence of self is the dispensing of existence experienced by women… Women undergoing these procedures report a sense of nonbeing” (Raymond 1993, xv). I cannot help feeling that my body, especially the most private areas of it, has been taken away from me. This surgeon and the horny resident both assess my pubic area. Now the vision of my genitals is held in their brains. I feel I possess my sex less and less and feel them both smug in the fact that they own it. What a power trip for them. Bastards.  via Women Against Stirrups – I’m Taking Back My Pussy!.

Psychological Harm #4: Invalidation

The value women place on the privacy of their vagina is in no way reflected by many practitioners’ attitudes.  There is an expectation that we are supposed to be fine with this type of exam.  Yet have we not always been taught to keep our legs together, sit with our legs crossed, and to not let strangers touch us?  The role we are expected to assume during day to day life versus the role we are expected to adopt during a pelvic exam are vastly different.  How a pelvic exam feels and how we are told it is supposed to feel presents a gap of huge proportions.  The lack of acknowledgment for how we feel confuses us, belittles us, and invalidates us. We lose a sense of stability, trust, and safety.

Chrissy (UK) says: This all goes with the ‘get used to it, you’re a woman’ attitude, or ‘I’m a doctor and therefore entitled to see and touch your body’. I don’t know what they are taught when they are medical students, but there is no way they understand what it is like for a woman to be exposed and spreadeagled on an examination table whist they rummage around in the most intimate part of our body. I still remember my first pelvic examination. I was 17 and the (male) doctor forced my knees apart, as I wouldn’t comply with his verbal instructions to spread my legs. I felt violated – I WAS violated . . .  October 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Psychological Harm #5: Dehumanization

All women have a right to privacy and dignity, except of course when they are in the presence of a doctor.  The name assigned to the “pelvic” exam is carefully nonsexual and yet what takes place during the exam is something more intimate than most women would allow a spouse or lover to do.  It is cruel to expect women to ever become used to this type of extreme exposure, and it is inaccurate to assume women will become desensitized over time.  To expect women to get used to the exam is cruel and dehumanizing.

Yazzmyne says: . . . I also believe that these gyn exams are rape even when a woman consents to it. She may verbally and rationally agree to it, but her body screams NO and most women do not listen or respect their own bodily feelings in this context. With all the fear mongering about cancer and the fear for the exam itself, she can’t even make a rational decision (and not that it has to be a rational one, because rationality is used to justify the whole ordeal and rationalize her feelings of violation away) because the mind is locked in fear and can’t think clear anymore and this is exactly what doctors want. There are so many benefits for them to keep using the medieval pelvic exam:

to satisfy their sexual lusts
for the powertrip
for the money
and the fear this exam generates in women also keeps them traumatized, in fear, unable to think CRITICAL about the so called need for them   October 10, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Psychological Harm #6: Distrust

A lasting, pervasive sense of distrust is likely to form when one is violated by someone in a position of trust.  The distrust that results from negative experiences during pelvic exams can present a lasting barrier to a woman’s access to health services.  Women who are traumatized by their physician’s practices related to pelvic exams are far less likely to trust the medical system as a whole.

FerretGirl01 says: I have a terrible fear of the OB/GYN mainly because my very first pelvic exam was so traumatic. I was a virgin and it hurt so much that I cried. And even after I told the doctor to stop, she kept trying to collect the sample after telling me she would stop any time. I felt violated…scared…and I hurt so bad I had to take pain relievers. I was bleeding when I got home and discovered my “cherry” had been popped because the doctor was too rough and rushed with the exam. That made me terrified of ever getting one again . . . via Fear of Gynecological Exam – Women’s Health – MedHelp.

Psychological Harm #7: Fear

There are all kinds of fears that go along with this exam.  There is fear of the consequences of refusing, fear of the consequences of complying, and fear of the consequences of speaking out.

Anonymous says:  I’m 22 and I haven’t been to the gyno! Every time I even think about it I get so freaked out and sick. I’m not scared of being in pain – I’m scared of personal intrusion, of being on my back and not having control. Every time I think about it, it makes me feel like it would be some kind of assault, because I really **don’t want** it to happen, and going would just be me trying to get over my fears and knowing that it’s something I need to do. I’m terrified of anyone touching me when I know that I’m forcing myself to let them and that I feel so insecure and invaded. I haven’t been sexually abused . . . But I’m just SO.TERRIFIED. via extreme exam anxiety.

AVEN Member says: Doctors are always pressuring their patients to get it done, and instilling fear of cancer to those who refuse. I think they insist more on a pelvic exam than they do on quitting smoking. Yes, I am doing the ‘unspeakable’ and questioning doctors . . .  I think the procedure is inhumane. If you think I just need to suck it up, please listen. This is ranting towards people like that. People that think women just need to “suck it up” or “get over it”.  Rant on Pelvic Exams – Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

Psychological Harm #8: Despair

When women repeatedly have their way of understanding the world ignored it can lead to feelings of despair.  When their understanding of what is occurring is discounted and invalidated; when their fears, trauma, and other experiences are ignored, then their place in the world and sense of self can shift.  Women are often left with pervasive feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Anonymous says:  I got my first pap smear yesterday. I’m not a big crying type, but I cried like a baby. It was the most traumatizing experience of my life. I’m 18 and I’ve only had one partner for the year I’ve been sexually active . . . The metal “spectrum” upset me and that was bad enough. But the worst part for me, that has left me horrified and with nightmares, is what came next. Nobody told me going into this that the doctor was going to shove her hand all the way up to basically my stomach. EXCUSE ME?! Why does nobody see this as completely violating!! I cried so hard. Today being the day after, I keep reliving it and I don’t want anyone to touch me and I just feel disgusted . . . I should not be subjected to this, especially at my age I don’t think. Not to mention that I was pretty much forced to get one if I wanted birth control. That just seems wrong to me. I try to be save and prevent a child at this time and my life and what am I forced to do? Be humiliated, violated, and traumatized.   via Awkward Things My Mother Never Taught Me: Just How Violating a Pap Smear Really Is….

Elizabeth says:  On one blog a young woman was so stressed about pap tests she wanted to be knocked out…it’s shocking, she should be told to forget about it and enjoy her life – this testing has robbed so many women from the pleasure of being healthy, young and female and often takes our peace of mind, bodily privacy and dignity, damages our health and lives, destroys relationships and takes the shine off sex, especially after traumatic “treatments” and when women are unable to access the Pill without forced testing…and at age 30 if she’s worried about cc, she could test herself for HPV, but that would be too easy and make too much sense…actually doing what’s best for her, she’ll probably end up being sedated for a pap test…so depressing.

In conclusion I would like to say that if you find you have “anxieties” regarding pelvic exams you can take heart because, as you can see, your concerns are valid.   On a brighter note, more women are becoming aware that they have the right to informed consent for screening.  In addition there are now alternative ways to test for cervical cancer, such as the Delphi self-screener, which is available in some countries.  See Singapore – Dutch Collaboration:,%202012.pdf


About forwomenseyesonly

Hi. My name is Sue and I am interested in promoting holistic and respectful health care.
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289 Responses to Psychological Harms of Pelvic Exams

  1. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    It makes me wonder how many women are out there carrying trauma from a forced pap test, pelvic or breast exam. It’s ALL so unnecessary, it’s unhelpful and exposes us to risk.
    It’s beyond bad medicine. Even if it was some time ago, I’d still make a formal complaint, let the doctor know YOU know what that exam was all about and/or how it impacted on your life.
    So often the doctor gets away with basically assaulting a woman…if it’s not clinically required, it cannot be justified. Even if it’s clinically required (and screening can NEVER be clinically required) they still need your consent.
    We’re seeing a lot of historical alleged sexual assaults being investigated at the moment by Operation YewTree and others, here we’re having a Royal Commission into child sex abuse by religious and other institutions. Doctors so often escape close scrutiny, a bit like pap testing…but there is no difference between a predator who happens to use his teaching or religious role to take advantage or a doctor, in many cases it’s worse, because IMO, doctors have a unique duty of care, we may be especially vulnerable in that relationship/setting.

    • adawells says:

      This is so true. Making smear tests and breast exams the mainstay of every woman’s appointment with her GP must make many doctors get blasé about it and lose sight of where the clinical need (if there ever was one) ends and the abuse starts. What Jo’s Trust calls making the procedure so commonplace that it will be normalised into a woman’s daily lifestyle, so she won’t begin to question it. Last year when I went to my now ex-GP about my post-menopausal bleeding, which turned out to be womb cancer, I started the consultation by explaining the unusual spotting and bleeds that I had had. As if not listening at all, she turned round and asked me if I would like a breast exam. She may have seen a pop-up message on the screen to say I’d turned down mammograms, or she may have just fancied a quick grope, I don’t know. But I gave her a very emphatic NO! I then told her I thought she was a no-good doctor, and there was some argument about some previous diagnoses of hers. She then stopped the argument and getting back to the subject of my visit, asked me to decide whether to go ahead with the pelvic exam or go home. I had to go through with this, but refused the speculum saying it would cause me too much pain. I got a hospital referral after this even though she said she couldn’t find anything wrong, but it did turn out to be endometrial cancer.
      After this I wrote a letter of complaint to the practice requesting to be put on the list of another GP, which has happened, but my letter detailing the reasons for me wanting to change and my bad experiences with my former GP has never been replied to. In view of the fact my spotting turned out to be cancer, I think the least the practice could do is reply to me.
      There seems to be a medical school of thought that the more women’s vaginas and breasts are exposed, probed and fingered, the more women will accept this process as normal like getting a hair cut, and thus the more cancers will be found. It has definitely had the opposite effect on me and doesn’t seem to have made much impact on cancer deaths anyway.

  2. Diane Spero says:

    I doubt there will be any response to your letter. Responding means they agree by recognizing the necessity to respond. this respond response to a post i made. catmouse seems very insensitive to my gyn phobia, i don’t have anything wrong, so don’t know what she is taking about when she said . My prayers for your recovery, and that it didn’t spread. it seems she responded without really reading the post.

    i have suffered with what i believe is dysporina ( tight vigna). i have not been able to get a diganosis , because i can’t have an exam.
    Iits bad to suffer for yrs, but than be told no one will respon to you is in sensitive.
    i have been denied intimacy, treated rudely by medical people.
    i am just going to move on and no trauamaize myself with another exam attempt.
    i have suffered for long enough.

    i hop at some point the gyn community will realize how they trauamaize women!

  3. Cat&Mouse says:

    Diane, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to be insensitve. I’m trying to track down your original letter and my response. I truly felt you had a disease-type etiology (like life threatening) hence my prayers response. What I remember is reading “vaginitis” and what I think you’re talking about is “vaginismus,” which I believe is closer to what you’re talking about. Quite a difference medically speaking. Personally, I relate to you. I cannot tolerate the “usual” speculum. Thank God for my husband again. While I’m still in the process in doctors office of taking care of myself, he readily sticks up for me. He requested, or told them, that they’ll use a pediatric speculum instead.

    Check the size differences; there’s three of them made. Can’t wait to read your reactions as mine were unprintable. If you tense up or cannot tolerate the spreading, and can’t perform for them, then you’re automatically rated by them, as I was, as possibly molested. Tell me, whether or not that happened, do we really need that bs stamp? Without ob-gyns being trained as shrinks; they fall back on that for a bona-fide diagnosis? Because our natural reaction can’t be turned off?

    My first exam was horrible, and I’ll never forget it-my crying during and after. No warning or I’d have run away. The discussion before hand? I suppose girls in islamic countries being maimed receive similar notification. You know why’s and what’s gonna occur, but in no way can you imagine how, what, the pain, terror, or afterwards. And yes, the trauma is a pain that keeps on taking.

    Did some research. Regardless of the “why,” some women must be anesthesized prior to any kind of gyn exam. Don’t expect your team, if this is what you require to get through this, to be all-female, as the bs of the medical community recognizes them all being “professional,” and need I go on? I wouldn’t be surprised if doctors ask/require you to be seen by psychiatrists to “explore” why you won’t allow them to violate you.

    All I can say is the sacrifices we make having babies. ANY of that bs I’ve heard about taking the pain, sacrificing my privacies, doing whatever they want to put me through, just so I can have a healthy baby? Where are all those do-gooders when a marriage sours right afterward thanks to what pandora’s box is opened on an otherwise healthy husband-wife relationship after one of these “experiences” having a baby? I cannot count how many women have written letters around subject matter like this. How they hated exams before; and then they get pregnant or want a family. And men/husbands? Those who really care and voice it aren’t much different than you are. My husband for one.

    Worse yet, it’s impossible for women to stand up to doctors/nurses during labor/delivery because oxytocin rules our minds. We are chemically set to take whatever crap dished out and hurriedly make peace. Then pregnancy #2 happens, if our marriage goes that far.

    Stand up for yourself, and don’t give in. Whatever/whomever you have in support, bring all that to bear in your favor. If you require meds, and the chaperone of your choice, including you telling them the plastic pediatric speculum will be warmed and lubed, so be it. They work for you, be it in tax dollars or private insurance. For whatever the reason. You have this life cross to bear; that a gyn exam is something your body and mind knows better than to comply with; only our stupid society with its arbitrary laws doesn’t have room for you. Nurses who in public demand respect for women treat you like trash. You are special. A special person who might teach them something about or remind them about the caring they are supposed to and mandated to provide. I’m sorry for adding to your terror. Maybe this info will help you. Otherwise, if there’s anything I can do, I will. Don’t hesitate to ask. And again, my prayers and love.

    • Diane Spero says:

      thanks for your reply. i don’t have any support. i can ask someone from church from for a ride if a dr would sedate for an exam, of which none will do.
      i have taken a 1 mg of ativan before an exam , does nothing! i have asked for the pediatric speculum. they tell me they are using the smallest one, speculums freak me out! my first exam was bad too. i had abuse before that didn’t tell anyone.
      i will see what happens today. i wish my apt was in the am, hate ds offics worse in late afternoon,
      its hard to stand up people in drs offices, its an asembly line.

      if i am not comfortable today i will leave.
      i tried o make endro apt, i had to cancel it and when i called back the bitch on the phone said i can’t see any of the drs there, i am calling back i want to speak to a supervisor and see their policy in writing.

      i can’t prove it but i feel i am black listed by drs because of my dr anxiety. maybe its florida but
      i can’t believe there are so many rude office staff. i am poliete, though anxious.
      i can’t stand the whole medical system. i am glad i don’t have to go very much.

      i will let you know what happens today, just want it over with, have all my papers done , i hope.
      it seems they always forget one.

      this is it, if i get no results today i am done, not putting self through this anymore.

      i so agree we need to stand for self ourselves when it comes to medical care.

      i did write a dr a letter about myissue with his staff, but she was so verally abusive.


      • Cat&Mouse says:

        I’m grateful to have the chance to help. The metal speculums I’ve seen all come in one size. I hate them most b/c they are always cold and I don’t care for them visually either. The plastic speculums are cheap at med supply. The pediatric size has white plastic, adult light green, and the huge one blue.

        Re Ativan. This is important. Is it generic? If so, some are useless. By that I mean very little effect. The brand works quite effectively and sedates me. I’m disabled and use a lot of meds. I’ve found that generics, almost across the board, are 50-75% effective at best, across the board. An antibiotic may work, but it upsets the stomach or causes itching where the brand doesn’t. This is especially true for narcotics, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers. If I cannot get brand Ativan, I request Watson brand Lorazepam. That’s the only generic I’ve tried that does anything. Sometimes Xanax works better too. Again though, if generic be careful.

        The generics coming out of India are TERRIBLE. Red China equally as bad. I try, if no other choice, to use a generic made by the same company that makes the brand drug. And here, Qualitest and Apotex make JUNK; sometimes dressed in bright capsules to make it look powerful.

        To get a doctor to write for brand here’s what you do. Obviously the generic was useless. Call the doctor and have the Rx written, with the box checked that says “do not substitute” and also initialed. Your insurance carrier may deny still. In that case, the doctor’s staff fills out a Prior Authorization. It lists what you tried in the past, and how well it did or didn’t work, any other alternatives if necessary, and that due to these things and that this is the best med (short acting vs long acting) the doctor feels it is necessary. Usually this suffices and it’s approved.

        Pharmacies stock the cheapest **** they can sell. Oh, they say it’s all tested, the same, and works the same. Like a baker who uses the best ingredients vs a car mechanic doing it in his garage between tune-ups with ingredients he finds in dumpsters. Also, the binders and excipients used heavily influence how the product dissolves and is accepted by your body. Also, many generics, once approved, are pirated meaning the active ingredient is watered down. Companies make huge profits…

        My husband, every year, goes out of his way renewing my PA’s, and recently did an appeal so I could get a med covered which I rely. If not, I wouldn’t be here helping out. My doctor’s staff are angels too, and we reward them with goodies too.

        It may also help you to get this exam done under sedation to have an evaluation with somebody higher than a GP; whether it be a shrink or whatever is necessary. I’d see a gyn specialist who understands the condition afflicting you. To a degree, we all have it, which is why they try to have us do all the bs breathing exercises so we’ll relax, flushing our brain’s common sense down the toilet, and trust “them” as they assault us.

        If your insurance is a PPO vs an HMO that may be helpful as well. You might call the insurance office and inquire for a specialist. I hope this gets to you in time to help. Please let me know.

      • Diane Spero says:

        well i had the same response, no exam no help. asked for sedation again was denied.
        it wasn’t worth the anxiety it produced. causes too much ptsd.

        thanks for the support anyway.


        lad i am home going to have a drink.

  4. Sometimes doctors just don’t get it. After all, they’re so used to a clinical setting that it becomes routine to them. Also, if something does not bother YOU, it’s hard to imagine someone else being bothered by it. Case in point: I learned to swim about the same time I learned to walk. I love to swim, especially in the ocean. My husband has a phobia about water, especially ocean water or any other rough water. Someone who is not particularly bothered by gynecological exams may not understand how anyone else could feel afraid or violated. And a lot of them don’t even try to understand.

    Back in the mid-90s, I called my health provider to see what could be done about my phobia of exams. I was curtly told that no one would be willing to sedate me and that teenage girls do this, so why couldn’t I? This last September, though I had post-menopausal bleeding, and my doctor was vey, very cool about it. She sedated me, no static about my husband being with me, and all went very well. (Don’t remember a thing, which was even better!)

    Most of the trouble with medical stuff is that we’re trained to accept whatever the doctor tells us and just go along. It’s time to stop reinforcing the idea that women are,just bodies to be worked on like we’re cars or other machinery. Stand up to them, and be as much of a b as you need to until they listen.

    Good luck! *hugs*

  5. Diane Spero says:

    i take 1 mg of ativan at night. it works for me.

  6. Debbie says:

    I recently had a pap smear & pelvic & breast examine by a male doctor I hadn’t had one in 15 years this doctor was so rough tried to use a large instrument to do pap test after I said I had c-section so I was really small there so he then switched to the smallest one & he examined my breast like he was kneading bread dough really rough & squeezed my nipples like he was pinching them off to check for discharge & there were 3 nurses in this small room I thought I would pass out first time seeing this doctor too it will be another 15 years before I will have this done I told my husband I am so freaked out now I am 49 years old too I don’t trust women doctors either had bad experiences with them too …I am glad I found this website knowing other women went through same ordeal and I know now I am not alone

    • Diane Spero says:

      i can relate, i have fear , and the drs are so rough. its an assbembly line, you are no longer a person just
      a machine being checked. i am done too. can’t take the panic it causes.

    • bethkz says:


      They ARE checking for discharge from your nipples when they pinch/squeeze them. Nevermind that many women lactate slightly under ordinary circumstances, at certain times, or even something as simple as eating foods high in phytoestrogens (soy and flax are among the highest). If you DO have something of a discharge with this hard pinching, even if someone has just weaned a baby and may be partially lactating, she’s going to have a TON of tests, probably including some sort of surgical intervention for a normal occurrence.

  7. Kate (UK) says:

    Ladies, here in the UK, and indeed many other countries in the world, routine pelvic and breast exams are not recommended. They may have been many years ago but have since proven to be ineffective. Even if you have symptoms, they’re not much help. There’s only one reason why your doctors insist on these antiquated practices – money. They are basically acting like a bunch of dodgy car mechanics who insist on poking under the hood and looking for non-existent ‘problems’ so they can charge you through the nose for it. Such a scam. You’re paying through the nose for their services and they behave as if it’s the other way around!

    • Diane Spero says:

      yes it a shame that medicine in the us has becom about making money. you pay tons of money , do tons of paper work, and little patient care. its an assbembly line, packing in patients to get paid by insurance.
      i am done with trying to have an exam, and the anxiety it causes.

      i am lad i don’t have to go the dr much, its too nerve racking

    • bethkz says:

      It’s not JUST about money to keep doing these useless, invasive tests. It’s about getting a sexual peek at women. It’s about exerting power over women. It’s about turning us into “cancer patients” when they can justify some sort of testing or treatment which we don’t need, and never needed. It’s damaging to people, and the ones who don’t need it make good spokeswomen as “cancer survivors” – when there never was any cancer, just treatment.

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        Beth, I agree, a young woman in the office told me yesterday her GP (a locum covering her doctor) wanted to do a “quick breast exam” when she went in for her script for the Pill. She has declined pap tests and has to listen to a lecture about that at every consult, but at 22 she knows it’s risk for no benefit. She plans to order the Pill online in the future.
        Anyway, thankfully, she challenged the doctor, he backed off straight away and said he was just trying to be thorough.
        I’ve always felt a casualness when it comes to access to the female body makes us even more vulnerable in the consult room.
        This young woman is very attractive, so I suspect he just wanted to get a little something out of the consult for himself. I wonder whether the same thoroughness would be evident with other patients, or is it only young and attractive women?
        I know older women who request routine breast exams, (the doctor should point out they are not recommended, are of no proven benefit, but can lead to excess biopsies) but a doctor suggesting or doing a routine breast exam on a young woman is concerning.
        I suggested she lodge a complaint with the surgery and the Medical Board.

        An unnecessary exam is just that, and does not mean the doctor is thorough, I’d say they’re incompetent, out-of-date or taking advantage.
        Doctors don’t do a quick check of the penis when a man wants antibiotics, yet some still feel they can do a quick breast check on a woman who wants the Pill.

      • Cat&Mouse says:

        I’ve done a lot of reading, research, and talked to lots of women. Most don’t care, can’t think for themselves, or go anyway b/c they just trust and rely on their doctor. Or they actually enjoy the exam but won’t publicly admit to it. Case in point. On another site, women readily write how much they lie to their husbands, and actually primp and look forward to being told what to do, stared at, groped, and it turns them on. Makes them feel empowered, especially if the doctor is old or if young and they make him nervous. LIke giving him an erection shifts the power of being assaulted back to them. I don’t understand.
        Most amazing is a woman, the second I’ve read about (this one I asked questions), who’ve said her female doctor masturbated her after the exam. Each said they enjoyed it. The whole exam was more invasive, slow, and they climaxed intensely . One ended up hooking up with the doctor and her husband. The other said she will return and feels flattered. Any comments?
        These women no doubt would loudly object if it were a man doing that.

      • Alex says:

        The mention of “assembly lines” has come up quite a bit & I thought I’d mention something: There actually is a tradition in that with science. It’s not “kind of/sort of/almost,” it’s actually ingrained in the “culture” of western science. I distinctly remember hearing about how the body started getting looked at as a machine when the clock was invented.

        If you were to look into “Indigenous Knowledge, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology” by Raymond Pierotti, it gets into that in the first chapter. “The Reenchantment of the World” by Morris Berman is another one that seems to get into the hows & history a bit (admittedly it can be a hard read in terms of vocabulary- you might want to have a dictionary handy for that one). Haven’t read all of either, but those two seem to trace history a bit.

        One more is “How It Is” by V.F. Cordova. That one gets more into depth with the workings & the styles of things than the dates & specific figures in history.

      • Kate (UK) says:

        Absolutely. You know, control freaks are everywhere, and some say that these kind of people are naturally drawn to professions such as the police force.Yet few (present company excepted) are willing to accept the idea the medical profession could also attract unsavoury types. But it’s the perfect profession for those with a abusive nature.

  8. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    By the way, I’ll bet he was also, very disappointed that she’s opted out of pap testing!

    • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

      Cat and Mouse
      Some of those accounts might be spam and there is also, a website dedicated to medical porn. I was reading an “account” and was about half way through when I realized it was porn. So there is a market for medical porn. Women are treated so poorly by the profession though, I was half way through before I became suspicious.
      Of course, there may well be women out there who enjoy these exams, like the attention etc. but far more find these exams humiliating, uncomfortable etc.

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        My cousin is a midwife, they see a woman regularly, she’s not interested in children, but enjoys the attention she receives from everyone when she’s pregnant. There are lots of problems and issues there…

  9. oddjoe01 says:

    I am a man and i have been married With a wonderful woman for almost 30 years.She is a nurse,working in a Norwegian hospital.My wife has never in her Whole life ever been consulting a male doctor for any reason.She says that she has seen enough of whats happening With women in the hospital during examinations and she says that she never want to be one of these women.Here in Norway patients can choose their doctors and if a woman dont want a male doctor or male nurse,her wishes will be respected.My wife is very much conserned about dignity,moral and privacy.She was a Virgin when i first met her and i am the only man who has seen or touched her body.And she says that the thinking of another man,also Health care staff,shall touch her body,will make her feel sick.And she also says that she thinks male gynecologists are creepy and that there are something suspicious With them.well,this is my wife and i feel very happy for beeing married With such a wonderful woman.She also says that her body is her property and she,and only she,can decide who shall see or touch her body.And she wants respect for her Choices.

    • Diane Spero says:

      i agree women should be respected if they choose not to have their body examined.
      why have i suffered for yrs with an attemp to have an exam. I am done! NOT TORCHING my self any more. i am listening to my body who ha ben staying no to exams for yrs.

    • Don says:

      It is amazing to me that women would allow a male doctor to perform intimate exams on them. Common sense would indicate that there is MORE than medicine being practiced when a strange male examines a female’s genitals. Oddjoe’s wife shows good sense in her awareness of this basic genetic fact. Very little research has been done on the subject of male gynecology and sexuality. Here is a link that does show some look at medical studies:

  10. Anna says:

    Well obviously woman don’t care about ovarian cancer, cysts, or HPV. Or the health of their reproductive organs. Of course it’s uncomfortable but 10 minutes of pain, and nerves, and fear is much easier than cancer. I haven’t seen a suggestion in this article about making a Pap smear any better. If you’re that afraid than don’t do it. But, if you don’t than you won’t be aware of what’s going on in your body. Doctors don’t do it to personally humiliate you and control you. They’re here for our health. I think some of you are a little too paranoid. I’m honestly shocked that some women think that doctors give pelvic exams to get a “look” at women. Wtf the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    • Cat&Mouse says:

      Anna. Please consider this site a “continuing education” place where you can learn new things. You like to use the word “obviously.” Obviously, why would we women want to have pain, be violated, not make decisions about our bodies w/o informed consent, endure useless tests which can spread disease, have our most precious parts hacked out leaving us unable to birth children and without adequate pain management, why, obviously, why I ask you?

      This site isn’t about making the pap better; it’s about eliminating this useless, invasive, disease-spreading, painful, stupid, doctor-entertaining test. We can find out if we have HPV by urine, blood, or self-collected mucus. All without a doctor violating our bodies. And we are aware of what’s going on in our bodies; that’s why we’re here trying to change the things we don’t like and the things that don’t work!

      Doctors chose their profession because they like money, prestige, authority, and working on other bodies. Some of them, male and female, enjoy sexually exploring us women during exams. That’s why so many of them are in prison or have lost their licenses. Doctors aren’t there as charity to the public good. Every test they perform puts more monty in their pockets.

      Anna, perhaps you could read what’s going on here before deciding what we do is stupid. Because, when you write uneducated tripe you alone are the one who appears stupid. And doctors love stupid female patients. Those patients look to doctors as perfection, and they do anything doctors want them to do. I’d like to think you are smarter than that. Time will tell.

    • purptulips says:

      Hi Anna,

      You may want to reflect on what is stirring such a vitriolic and energetic response in you. What troubles you about knowing that sometimes people abuse authority? And how is it that you are unmoved/disbelieving of the many women, myself included, who have experienced serious trauma during these exams and have had the courage to speak of it here?

      In response to your comment about being in touch with one’s body, you seem to be missing the point that all of us who are speaking out here are doing exactly that- listening when our body says “no” and feels violated.

    • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

      Hi Anna
      I’m sure women care about ovarian cancer, but I’m not going to spend my days worrying about a fairly rare cancer or an even rarer cancer, cervical cancer.
      You might be surprised to hear that the pelvic exam and pap test are not screening tests for ovarian cancer, in fact, there is NO screening test for ovarian cancer.
      Ovarian cysts are a normal part of ovulation and only require treatment when the woman is symptomatic. I know some American doctors make out they’re a “possible” threat or “precancerous” condition and “treat” the woman, this IMO, is deceptive and highly unethical conduct. (if not more) Some of your doctors have even spoken out about this practice, stop pretending you’re saving women! I’m sure you’ve seen some of the many articles that have appeared in US papers and on TV over the last few years, warning women about the routine pelvic exam. Rest assured, this exam will harm you sooner or later.

      Routine pelvic exams are NOT recommended AT ALL, at any age, in the UK, Australia, much of Europe, NZ…why? They are not evidence based, are of poor clinical value and carry risk, even serious risk, including unnecessary surgery. It’s probably part of the reason why American women have poorer health outcomes, including 600,000 hysterectomies every year, 1 in 3 will have one by age 60, and the loss of healthy ovaries. Both of these surgeries occur at more than twice the rate of countries who don’t do this exam. (see articles by American ob-gyn, Dr Carolyn Westhoff)

      HPV – you can easily and reliably self-test for HPV, (no earlier than age 30) almost all women aged 30 and older are HPV- and cannot benefit from pap testing, biopsies or treatments. The Dutch will shortly only offer a 5 yearly pap test to the roughly 5% of women aged 30 to 60 who are HPV+
      The other 95% cannot benefit from pap testing and will simply re-test for HPV in the future, 5 or 10 years later, depending on age.
      Those under 30 are not tested under an evidence based program, see Finland and the Netherlands. Pap testing does not prevent these very rare cancers and condemns large numbers to excess biopsies and over-treatment, young women produce the most false positives of any age group. HPV testing is also, not recommended before age 30, as about 40% would test positive, almost all are transient and harmless infections that will clear in a year or two. It’s the roughly 5% who are HPV+ at age 30 or older that have a small chance of benefiting from a 5 yearly pap test. (at least until they clear the virus)

      So there IS something better than population pap testing, MUCH better, but most women will never see it. Billions is made in the States doing unnecessary pap tests, biopsies and treatments and then treating women harmed by those procedures. (damage to the cervix) These women may go on to have a premature baby, miscarriage, need a c-section or cervical cerclage…and then add the income from routine/unnecessary pelvic, rectal, recto-vaginal, TVU and breast exams that might be tacked onto a “well-woman” exam. Too much money is at stake. The healthy symptom-free female body has been turned into a commodity to be exploited by vested and other interests…and calling it “healthcare”, nothing could be further from the truth, this IMO is medical abuse.

      Hope you do some reading, there are plenty of medical journal references here, that way you can better protect your health and well-being.
      I can also, see why it may be upsetting to find/hard to believe you’ve been misled by doctors and others, put through unnecessary and invasive exams, perhaps, even procedures, biopsies or “treatments” etc.
      I can assure you the informed women on this forum know exactly what they’ve rejected, the point is: do you fully understand what you’re accepting?

    • Alex says:

      Well, “obviously” you’re a bit naive. First of all, properties don’t change by designation. If a doctor were to poison someone with a needle, it’s still murder. This is an interface with sexual areas as a product of someone else’s decision-making, which is an attack. It also doesn’t work as advertised (high risk, low utility, and directed toward something that is massively rare to begin with). They shouldn’t be purveying things that are untrue or unsafe in the first place & it’s not someone making their own decisions if someone lied to them (deception vitiates consent), given the dynamics it’s a bit worse then a scam.

      Doing either one is bad, but both together certainly amplifies things. These people are selected, trained, and certified. Since that obviously doesn’t get filtered out & the occupational community doesn’t come down on it, it makes sense to presume that it’s something that’s endorsed. Even if they were trustable, someone’s not going to get what they’re after.

      These things are frequently imposed on women & girls, whether through coercion (forcing women into these exams for birth control, for instance), deception (usually there is not a situation of full disclosure with regard to risks, inaccuracy, or alternatives), or on occasion physical force (this would, of course, include taking liberties in someone’s sleep- as has been the case recently, and perhaps currently, in Canada & Australia).

      Another thing is that doctors might very well do these things for all the reasons you mention. That’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard? That the overlapping property of interfacing with sexual areas might be a reason for the doctor doing something? Really? One doctor had even given “shared decision-making” as a reason for doing exams in spite of them not being as useful as advertised! That’s not to “control” someone? Certainly sounds like they want to make their own decisions & edit someone out of what does & does not happen to them. This is self-elected penetration, but somehow that’s NOT the case?

      How about how damn-near everything medical is either useless or causes a problem, now? The allopathic tradition more or less amounts to trying to attack the body in some way that generates a benefit to it. This is antithetical, but more & more the things that come from this source are harmful in bizarre, sometimes science-fiction like, ways. The constant trend of it not doing what it’s supposed to (or doing exactly what it’s supposed to, that just isn’t announced) is a point.

      As it stands, it’s basically illegal to sue pharmaceutical companies in America- so there’s no accountability to worry about. The government, apparently, is also not allowed to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies- so they can charge whatever they want. Doctors themselves get financial incentives for various things, but they also get a massive part of their whole profession from this angle. There’s nothing to say that what they are taught is not designed for money or malice, or both.

    • bethkz says:

      The real problem is pushing these tests to the exclusion of any real medical problem that the woman is having. That leaves these other problems untreated for much longer – perhaps until it becomes a crisis.

      Kidney cancer is about as prevalent as cervical cancer. There is no huge screening program anywhere for kidney cancer. Why not? Perhaps, there is no evidence-based indication for any sort of population-wide screening for kidney cancer. Do you not care that you might get kidney cancer?

      Cervical Cancer is rare, and we get a lecture each and nearly every time we go to a doctor for any reason, these tests are pushed. I don’t know about you, but I don’t go to the doctor to have a high-pressure sales pitch given, and to not have the medical problem addressed. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the US, and most women are not urged to get an EKG every time they go to the doctor. Heck, women presenting at the emergency room of a hospital with chest pains are likely to have her mammogram history looked at – along with questions about her last pap and its results -before they look at such things as abnormal heart conditions, call for an EKG, oxygen, or recommend any sort of heart surgery or the like. As such, women are more likely to die of her first heart attack than men.

      The bimanual pelvic examination cannot feel or palpate the normal or somewhat enlarged ovaries on any but the thinnest women. By the time the ovaries can be felt or palpated during one of these exams, the cancer is seriously progressed to stage 3 or more likely stage 4 and spread. At THAT point, it';s hardly curable or survivable by any means. The best advice to give such a woman is to get her affairs in order.

      Ovarian cysts are a normal event that happens to any woman who is ovulating. These also CANNOT be felt.

      A person has a database of over 6000 medical professionals who have been convicted of sex crimes in association with their medical duties. Some of these are sexual assault, but over the past few years it has also included a significant number of medical profes sionals who photograph their patients or the parts of their patients, and keep or distribute them through pornography channels – WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT. Really – how about if a woman ran for president, and somebody could dig up pictures of her on a porn site? It would diminish her chances of election, simply because her doctor had a tiby camera in his pen, wristwatch, or Google Glass (TM) – let alone pulls out his cell phone where the patient cannot see.

      10 minutes of discomfort is one thing. If someone has been attacked, was injured or damaged, the person has years of PTSD to deal with, along with nightmares, and flashbacks.

      The cervical cancer it detects is only found in women who are HPV+. There are less or non-invasive tests for HPV. If she is HPV-, not/no longer sexually active or confidently monogamous, she has a 0$ chance of benefitting from these exams. Since there is a high rate of false positives, and referrals for biopsies, LEAP, and hysterectomies, the risk of harm is significantly higher than the 0.68% chance that someone EVER gets CC.

      If you’re that concerned about cervical cancer, perhaps you should consider the odds of being hit by lightening (1 in 6250 (0.016%)) (NOAA), or hit by a meteorite (1 in 3200 (0.03125%) (NASA). The odds of dying of cancer in the US is 4092 (NHS) in 160 million (US census), or 0.0026825% – or other low-probability causes of death in the US during 2012.

      IMO, I’d be better off worried about such things as heart disease, or iatrogenic-caused deaths (250,000 in 320,000,000 or 0.07% (2010 Johns Hopkins) )

    • Emily says:

      Anna I won’t bash you and say you’re stupid or naive. You have a different opinion and if you are ok w a vaginal exam then more power to you. In a way I don’t blame you and wish I could be more like you because it is MUCH easier to simply go along w what you’ve been told and be able to believe that everything is ok. For alot of us that illusion has been shattered. IMO the worst part of the whole womens healthcare debate IS the attitude that we don’t know what’s going on w our own bodies and that we need to be told and examined and treated . No one can ever know your body the way you do no matter how many degrees they have. If something is wrong your body will tell you all you have to do is listen. The real kicker is most of the things we can’t feel on our own are never found by Drs either because of very outdated and inaccurate methods. cervical cancer is quite rare and most of the time the other issues aren’t as big of a deal as Drs make them out to be. They often omit the risks of these exams and tests and don’t tell us about the other options we could and should have. Not to mention the treatments themselves often cause worse problems than the one being treated. It’s not that we don’t care about cancer etc the problem is that alot of time Drs don’t respect our feelings. It doesnt really help a person if the process of checking for or treating a physical problem creates an even worse mental/emotional problem and unfortunately for some of us it does. Many of the issues Drs cause such a fuss over never actually harm us and HPV is often transient and harmless. HPV goes away on its own most of time but PTSD doesn’t. Just remember that.

  11. Jola says:

    Anna, tell the truth – aren’t you a doctor in disguise? Come on, come clean.
    It’s sheer nonsense what you wrote, you know?

    Cat&Mouse – Bravo for your true words written to Anna.

    Doctors, doctors and doctors again – they know better than we do – hahahahaha – goodness me! By the way, my hubby has just rejected statines which horribly deteriorated his muscles, but doctors, ”dear” and educated doctors told him that he would die without taking statines as his bad cholesterol would be too high. What a joke. Do you know what he did? He went on fruit and vegetable diet and his bad cholesterol went down considerably within two weeks of the natural diet! I still can’t believe it.
    Hahahaha – the GP who told him about death was so annoyed that she didn’t want to speak, but she didn’t forget to try to talk him into taking the killing statines, which he OBVIOUSLY refused to do saying that he would be on this diet as that is the best medicine ever! The GP shut her mouth – a poor doctor and poor pharmaceutical companies – what a shame.

    It’s high time we trusted nature – it works for everything, not only for lowering the level of bad cholesterol, but it’s for every single organ in the body!

    • Ro says:

      Jola – “It’s high time we trusted nature – it works for everything, not only for lowering the level of bad cholesterol, but it’s for every single organ in the body!” I couldn’t agree more! This is a fantastic comment. I was doing some research a while back, and it turns out that people of Nordic countries on average have a longer life span and a happier life. After looking into it, I found that typically Nordic countries have a much more natural diet, exercise very often, have easier access to better naturopathic health care, and have less stress in their lives. They certainly seem to be doing it right, statistically speaking. The rest of the world could learn a lot from them. There’s most definitely something to be said for relying on nature and trusting your body to heal itself with the proper nutrients.

      • Jola says:

        Thank you Ro.

        This diet is very simple, but may be hard for the first week. It DOESN’T CONTAIN:
        flour products (only whole meal bread is all right)
        cottage cheese
        pasta (only brown pasta is all right)
        light margarine
        black tea
        salt (if yes, very little, preferably Himalayan salt which is the best instead of the typical one)
        Preferably no potatoes, and if yes, then with skin

        Fasting for one or two days. In the case of cancer, it is advisable to starve longer than two days. Cancerous cells are eating themselves then as the organism starts to feed itself from its internal sources. Generally speaking, eating meat is very unhealthy, the same relates to too much protein – adult people’s organisms don’t need milk at all. Sugar is one of the best source of food for cancerous cells. The only acceptable milk is straight from a cow – warm (for me disgusting :) ). We don’t need any cheese at all. As for cottage cheese, it can be only half with linseed oil (6 spoons of linseed oil – the oil must be bought from a fridge, not a grocer as it loses its nutritional value when not kept in the fridge). These 6 spoons of linseed oil and half of cottage cheese mixed together gives us plenty of Omega 3 which fights off cancerous cells – this mixture is called dr Budwig’s paste. It is worth reading about – Dr. Johanna Budwig’s Diet (the lady who was nominated to the Nobel Prize several times but never got it and died forgotten). She was a great person.

        This diet is the same as dr Gerson’s (US) and dr Dabrowska’s (Poland).


      • Alex says:

        Any info on the Mediterranean situation with all that? I know it’s not unheard of for Mediterraneans to live a long time, but I’m also wondering about how the other things are. It doesn’t seem too medically dictatorial or incompetant.

        I’ve noticed how every damn thing is seen as a health risk in America & yet, the people here are not generally very “solid.” They abstain from everything & yet they can’t really do anything without snags. Having dissatisfactory situations or encountering obstacles when trying to do things would pretty much be what a “health problem” is.

        They might not totally die very early, but whatever the general age of death is, that number doesn’t reflect that they’re frequently kept alive by machines at that point. Or that they’re falling apart years before that. Or that they have all kinds of problems before that, even while young- lots of those are engineered, though. Antagonism or incompetance, both cause lots of issues for people in this country.

      • Alex says:

        Jola: I’ve heard that raw milk is good for you. The milk from animals other than cow seem to be especially so. I know the Mongols would make a lot of things from horse milk, including booze!

        Another thing that I heard was that the kind of cholesterol that clogs blood vessels actually comes as a response to toxins. When there’s a lot, the response starts piling up & that causes problems.

      • Ro says:

        Jola – Thank you so much for all of the great info! I don’t eat meat or drink dairy milk. I used to drink dairy milk, but a few years ago it started to taste odd (probably from new added chemicals). Lately, I’ve been drinking and using coconut milk. I don’t know much about nutritional value, but I personally like the taste and I’ve found it goes along great with a nice cup of tea :). I will definitely need to work on cutting out sugar, salt, and potatoes as those tend to be vices of mine. I’ve cut back on sugar quite a bit, but I’d like to do away with unnatural (added) sugar entirely. Do you know of some foods that naturally contain sugar and are good for you? I feel like eating those when cravings hit would help me to break the habit. I’ll go for the Himalayan salt from now on and try to eat potatoes sparingly (but the potatoes will probably be the most difficult for me to give up LOL).

  12. Anna sounds like a classic troll to me: posts inflammatory remarks on a forum, just for the pleasure of upsetting people.

    Seriously, though…I second the previous responses to Anna’s post: read and learn. Even if you’re comfy with intimate exams, it might benefit you to try to see the world through eyes other than your own.

  13. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    I think you may be right, Elaine.
    I’ve noticed women who are “comfortable” with these exams or even promoters of these exams usually have a fairly poor knowledge of the evidence. Many just repeat the screening story promoted by these programs and the medical profession. Others are so trusting of the medical profession, they’d never question the need or benefit. Even if you cite medical journal references etc, their minds are closed, they “think” they know it all.
    It shows the effectiveness of decades of brainwashing, repeating the same story over and over, one that’s rarely challenged…in the end some are so convinced they’re right (or perhaps, fear we’re right) they’ll never check the “facts” provided about this testing or check our facts.
    I think that’s why some women get very upset or even aggressive/rude when we question this testing. I accepted long ago that some women are unreachable, they’re destined to spend the rest of their lives climbing into stirrups for tests, biopsies etc.
    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink…

    • It kind of reminds me of the story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” At the end of the story, no one at the court could admit they’d been had, even when the evidence was before their eyes, AND if you’ve been a victim of a confidence game or scam, I can imagine that rather than confront the people who’ve conned you, you might lash out at the people pointing out the fraud.

      *sad sigh*

  14. Jola says:

    Hi Alex

    I am not an expert, but as I can see and prove, fruit and vegetable diet works. As for raw milk – yes (I wrote about it as ”warm” – for me horrible, but it is not pasturised so it is the right one).

    Cancer can be treated with a proper diet without parts of the body being hacked, cut out, gouged, or whatever.

    By the way, diabetes is a common problem nowadays – all because of improper diet.

    Aren’t the Mediterraneans medically dictatorial? Yes, it seems to me they aren’t. Judging from what I read here from time to time, it’s mostly the US that is so obsessed with medical totalitarianism – honestly. Next, Australia – look what Elizabeth writes about the situation there, and Canada as well. However, when it comes to childbirth in Spain, one midwife from the UK had a Spanish apprentice who was very surprised why women in Britan do not have their pubic and perineum hair shaved before childbirth – a very instrumental approach to women in labour. I once read a story writen by one lady who gave birth in Spain and she wasn’t allowed to use the TENS to relieve her labour pains because a midwife said they have no time for something like that. Well, again when it comes to women’s situation in hospitals, it doesn’t seem good. Italy may be the same – I have no idea, but it just seems to me it is more than likely.

    • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

      There is a program here called “Catalyst” and recently they did a 2 part program on gut bacteria. It was a fascinating program.

      “Now, we’ve been hearing for years how we should be eating healthy food. But this research is different. It’s all about the bacteria that live in our intestines. Eat good food, you end up with good bacteria. Eat badly and you get bad bacteria in your gut. Now, it turns out your gut bugs have an enormous influence on your health.”

      “The remarkable new discoveries are telling us that our current eating habits could be making us sick. Very sick. Indeed, our food might be contributing to heart disease, cancer, asthma, allergies, arthritis, autism, depression, multiple sclerosis, diabetes – the list goes on.”

      You might find it interesting.

      • Alex says:

        Very interesting. I have to wonder if at some level these things ARE known & are aimed to cause harm. I know that’s a little spy-ish, but these things keep happening. There ARE secrets, after all. Maybe some of them are about large-scale things that are low-key?

    • Alex says:

      Yeah, I kind of figured it might be a mixed situation in the Mediterranean. On the one hand, they don’t back women into corners with birth control & they seem to see a situation for what it consists of. On the other, they seem to have a little bit of that “old world condescension” & sometimes seem to have a little bit of a religion-driven scorn with women.

      My cousin just came back from Italy & she had said that the guys were a bit insistant for her taste (I guess that’s what she meant by “creepy”). I’d worry that in a medical situation, that would carry over & maybe be in a more bossy, dicatotrial way.

      I’ve noticed that the tactic of simple comportment comes up pretty frequently. Not just medically, but in a lot of other situations. They just say to do something & the person doesn’t feel like doing it, but can’t quite “make thier case” mentally about why not. It’s like if someone told you to jump up & down on one leg, and you said no, and then they said “Why?” Someone usually doesn’t seem to have the answer “Because that’s outside orchestration (or third-party comportment, whichever) and that’s a problem.” Ultimately, it’s trying to make there be no “filling” in the argument section. “Oh, so there’s no reason?” Let’s say someone refused something & didn’t give a reason- that refusal still happened.

  15. Jola says:

    Elizabeth, thank you so much.

    • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

      You’re welcome Jola, my younger sister is trying to cut out sugar, she’s into week 2…we’ll see, she’s always loved her cakes and puddings. I stopped eating red meat a couple of years ago now, after a few days I had an amazing “feeling” of lightness. (I don’t mean lighter on the scales) I liked that feeling so much, I’m still off red meat, and at this point I can’t see that changing, mainly because I don’t miss it at all. Zero cravings.
      That’s surprised me, no temptation at all, even if everyone around me is eating steak. I still eat white meat, no pork, but free range chicken and turkey, and I occasionally eat prawns. I tried to give up bread a few years ago, had very strong cravings, and really missed my toast, sandwiches etc. We now eat rye and wholemeal bread from a local baker, wood fired ovens, delicious.
      Then I tried to give up caffeine, that was incredibly hard, felt flat and miserable and had headaches for a few days. Sugar is another thing, when I cut back, cravings, I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I will cut back more, I’ve already found some great no sugar options from a local vegan bakery.
      The issue for me…some of these things are so pleasurable, they feel good for my well-being. I’d forever mourn their absence. I love my morning coffee, enjoy every drop…and a glass of wine every couple of days.
      I fear if I found out these things shortened my life, I might ask, how many years will I lose?
      I saw a documentary a few years ago about a couple who hope to live until they’re well over 100, they believe the secret is to eat very small meals, no meat, alcohol, sugar…on and on. It sounded like a fairly ordinary 100+ years. I also, didn’t think they looked healthy OR happy.

  16. Moo says:

    Not about psychology at all.

    I just wonder about the composition of sexual lubricants. How do they differ from the composition of natural secretions? We are told that we NEED these because we are supposed to be so ready for sex (like males are always) or that when we are older that we have “dry vagina” and that is some type of disease. Older women are told to get some lubricant and a speculum and insert it regularly so that they will find their pelvic exam less painful. Really? Who does that benefit?

    So these vaginal lubricants are full of artificial sugars (glycerin) and preservatives. Do they upset the pH or microbial balance of the vagina and promote disease? Are there healthier alternatives?

    • Alex says:

      I’d imagine. One of the things I heard about cancer is that adding baking soda to the diet changes the pH to make it less hospitible to cancer. Sugar, on the other hand, does the opposite. I think the body might also response to the situation better if the pH is different. Anyway, I’d think sugar may or may not feed bacteria & such- just another consideration.

      I don’t usually get into the biological stuff too much, but I’d be real cautious about what is used in a situation where a membrane can absorb one thing or another. Especially considering how they always find a use for something that’ll cause harm to people. Add to that the general antagonism or disregard that the medical profession tends to have toward women, it might turn into a situation that leads to a doctor visit (which can go any number of ways).

    • Karen says:

      “Older women are told to get some lubricant and a speculum and insert it regularly so that they will find their pelvic exam less painful” – this is beyond insane. Older women should keep their vaginas in a rape-able condition (I wonder what sort of obligatory blurb follows such advice about “being responsible” and “awareness”) for the benefit of the medical profession, of course.

    • bethkz says:


      >I just wonder about the composition of sexual lubricants. How do they differ from the composition of natural secretions? …
      So these vaginal lubricants are full of artificial sugars (glycerin) and preservatives. Do they upset the pH or microbial balance of the vagina and promote disease? Are there healthier alternatives?<

      IMX, "Dry Vagina" is only bothersome during intercourse or when something else is inserted. I have been puzzled about why it is that elderly women who are widows, no longer sexually active, or are institutionalized with dementia or the like are being "treated" for "dry vagina". There are even over-the-counter preparations for this – which is only different from sexual or general-purpose lubricants in the price. The composition of them is the same.

      A safer, natural lubricant that I've used when it's been a problem is either butter or saliva.

      What is this about using a speculum to insert it, anyway? How about a tube or the woman's own hand? Yeah, I know, supposedly women cannot reach into their vaginas very far, which is why cervices need to be examined by a professional with a speculum. Still, using a tube similar to a tampon tube to insert it should be do-able by nearly all women.

      The only thing I could think of would be if the women have vaginal burning and itching. That would generally seem to me to indicate an infection. Those are mostly caused by something disrupting the PH balance, or antibiotic use destroying the natural microbes that keep the pathogenic ones intact. It would seem far more beneficial to re-introduce the bacteria – mainly through diet, but they can be applied directly – e.g., bio-active yogurt inserted with a tube or turkey baster reserved for that purpose.

      As far as a sexual lubricant, the typical ones are full of gycerin and parabens. As an aside, I knew a woman who reacted badly to methyl- and propyl- paraben. She found a cosmetic company that claimed they could formulate cosmetics free of the allergen that bothered a given person. She went to them, and they told her THEY COULD NOT HELP HER. It was *legally required* that they put these substances in cosmetics! They have been implicated in breast cancer and skin treated with methylparaben is more prone to damage when exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays, and MAY contribute to skin cancer. This stuff can get in various body organs, where it becomes p-hydroxybenzoic acid. It's got some disturbing effects with breastmilk or in-utero exposure of infants (let alone baby care products!)

      • Cat&Mouse says:

        Elizabeth, too bad that AU ABC show Catalyst wasn’t shown in US. I’ll watch it.
        RE vaginal lubricants. Absolutely lubes can upset our balance. Glycerin fuels yeast infections. And the parabens & such can work but be irritating. Ending up with burning cracks & fissures is not the fun I want to repeat. Saliva, used that… Butter, novel idea; but it’s a fat and I don’t know how the body would deal with it. Any problems?

        Our vaginas are used to having some kind of acidic moisture barrier. The lactobacillis produces hydrogen peroxide which aids in our health and our smell. The low ph kills almost everything, including sperm, except when ovulating when it becomes thicker and a bit more alkaline. Our own moisture made during sexual stimulation is equal to blood plasma. makes “The Natural” a lube based on carrageenan, aloe, agave, and inulin. It does have preservatives. We tried a few and this is closest to my own, least irritating, and I like the ph balance. Hubby says it feels “real.” Has a pleasant neutral taste. They are upgrading to a thicker formulation.

        Preflavored coffees are something I avoid. The beans are marinated 24 hours in propylene glycol and fake flavoring. The plastic bins can’t be used for anything else they are so gummy and grimy. Flavored coffees can have the worst beans too. Also, chemically decaf coffee is done with a carcinogen. Only Swiss-Water processed coffee beans avoid that exposure. In my area, this process is done in Vancouver BC, Canada.

        I do douche. Not as much since menopause, but always after sex. I usually use 1-3T white bottled vinegar; but if I have a yeast infection I use baking soda. I’ve found these “reset” my body to what makes it hygienically happy. I also eat a lot of yogurt, and what you say about foods and our bodies’ health is spot on.

      • bethkz says:

        On lubricants: I haven’t had any problem with butter. Many of the lactobacilli present in a healthy vagina normally live in environments where there is fat from milk – which includes that from which butter is made. The excess fat will just be absorbed.

        I don’t douche EXCEPT when I believe I have a bacterial or yeast infection. Then, either with an iodine solution (bacteria) or vinegar (yeast). It’s pretty easy to tell the difference!

  17. Haley says:

    Finding this article made me feel so much better and less alone. I had a pelvic exam and Pap smear almost a year ago and was absolutely traumatized. I was told I had to get one in order to get birth control and thought that it couldn’t possibly be that bad. But the entire thing was awful and the whole time I had to hold back from pushing away and kicking the doctor off of me. But the worst part came after I left the doctor’s office. I don’t know how to explain it. I just felt so….wrong. I felt so dead inside, but depressed at the same time. Like I wanted to curl up under a rock and die. It got worse as time went on. My self confidence hit rock bottom and I was almost always depressed. I had horrible nightmares and cried all the time. No matter how hard I tried to put the exam behind me, it would constantly replay through my mind all day, every day. No matter how hard I tried not to think about it. I would have panic attacks sometimes. Especially if I saw a rape scene in a movie or saw or heard anything about gynecology on tv. I tried to hold in my feelings, but I honestly felt like I had been raped. The worst part, is that it didn’t just impact me, it impacted my sex life with my fiancé. We used to have a very good sex life and both of us would initiate sex very often. But now it is very rare for me to get aroused without having to try very hard. And sometimes thoughts of the exam pop into my mind and ruin the entire act. We have sex maybe 1/4 as much as we used to. I can’t even go to the regular doctor anymore or even the dentist without freaking out. I have always wanted children and now have second thoughts because of this whole experience. I will never ever let them do that to me again. Even if they deny me birth control. It’s a year later and I am just now starting to feel normal again. Sadly, I don’t think I will ever be 100 percent again. There will always be that little corner of my brain that will hold on to that trauma.

    • Kleigh US says:

      Its wrong for doctors to tie birth control with pap smears. They have no right imposing and exam on woman for unrelated care or bc.

    • b says:


      You’re having some typical PTSD reactions that any rape victim would have. Penetration by coercion IS rape. You were coerced by having the threat BC withheld even though there are NO findings in a pelvic exam which could effect the decision whether to prescribe hormonal BC, the dosage, the brand, or much of anything else. The only test that is required is a blood pressure check.

      I’m sorry that your trying to get something which should have helped your sex life by reducing the worry of unwanted pregnancy has turned into something that has all but destroyed your sex life. It’s also scared you off of having children someday when you want them – which should not be the case. If you have a hospital birth with an obstetrician, such “birth rape” is inevitable. A home birth under the right conditions might be the way to go – just make sure that you understand what sorts of interventions or when the midwife will send you to a hospital, and agree beforehand.

      Rape counselling or rape survivors groups may or may not help. They may help, in that the probloem is a penetration which was imposed upon you. It may not help because these exams are a blind spot in our society – an instance of what happens is not believed to be what occurs. The therapists and group members have also been so brainwashed into accepting this cultural blindspot that they may or not help.

      You say that it’s taken a year for you to feel “almost normal” again. That’s a good thing. It’s one reason that these exams are recommended on a yearly basis – to keep women constantly in a state of mental trauma from sexual assault – and all of the things that come with it – psychiatric issues and somatic complaints. Thus, women come back to the doctor more and more, use more and more products and services, and are more lucrative.

      • Kleigh US says:

        Sasly most obs tie paps with pregnacy care too. its a way they captuer woman. so wrong.

      • Alex says:

        I guess the term “unconventional abuse” or “iatrogenic attack” doesn’t tend to make it into discussions of this nature. Neither does “sexual dissonance” (when things are against the grain in this way). It definitely IS a blindspot & the weird thing is that people are quite astute about all manners of domestic abuse. If there’s any hitting at all, it’s a problem. If there’s any threats, intimidation, or sabotaging of someone’s ability to do things for themselves- that’s all an issue. There’s even a concept of mentally terrorizing someone & psychologically abusing them!

        It’s actually illegal for them to back women into corners to get birth control & if anyone gives you shit about “Oh, it’s a doctor though” just make the point that reality doesn’t take a coffee break for doctors. Properties don’t change by designation & an interface with a sexual area as a product of someone else’s decision-making is an attack (I know that isn’t the perfect way to phrase that, but there’s no way to say something so that someone else can’t lie or twist your words). If the doctor poisoned someone with a needle, it’s still murder. All this applies to risks & inaccuracies, too.

        Over here, if there’s any claim of potential utility or charitable intentions- someone can more or less do whatever they want to someone else. Medical personnel aren’t usually liable for what they do, since there’s always someone else to pass the blame onto & whoever that is just simply doesn’t want it.

    • adawells says:

      Haley, please don’t think you are alone with these feelings, as I had a very painful smear test forced on me at a postnatal assessment, and I too felt I had been raped and assaulted. As I was 35 and had already undressed from the waist to have a childbirth tear inspected, I felt so stupidly naive not to have guessed that this would have happened, I felt too embarrassed and sucked in to make a complaint. My way of dealing with it was to get out of there as quickly as possible. When I got home I cried a good deal for some time afterwards, and I was physically shaken by the ordeal for weeks afterwards. As you say, these horrible feelings are with you all hours of the day and night, and you would give anything to get them out of your brain, but you can’t, and any reference to gynaecology in the media sets your warning lights off again, and it takes days to settle down again. I was so embarrassed at falling into this trap, that I couldn’t tell a soul about it for 17 years.
      I’ve never had a smear test since and never will.

      I had heard about a process of trying to think about putting these experiences into a “strong box” in the recesses of your mind, of keeping that box shut and not letting it get open, until years in the future you feel bold enough to take a peek and try to overcome those feelings. I kept my box shut for 17 years, when I got my diagnosis of endometrial cancer, and I had to confront what had happened so long ago. It has been hard, but I’ve found this website has made me feel I’m not alone. There are women all over the world who are feeling as I do about these tests.
      What makes me so angry is that if you had been assaulted in this way by anyone else it would be a crime and you would get support for taking legal action against the perpetrator, but because it was a doctor who did this to you, they conspire against you to say, it was nothing, and that you need to accept it as a normal part of being a woman. I have since made complaints about my experiences to the health authorities and they dismiss my experience as if I was at fault for not being relaxed enough to accept it as a procedure to save my life. I could go on, but it heartens me greatly to read posts on here, which show that the tide is turning, and so many other women are abandoning this dreadful, barbaric, useless test.

  18. Kleigh US says:

    I honestly cant belive doctors are still doing this to woman in 2014. its not ok to impose inturnal exams on woman. its rape when they take chice away. like no pap no bc. thats rape.

    • Diane Spero says:

      i went through that yrs ago my self. i have been tramazited too. ignoed by drs cause i can’t have an exam. its not worth the anxiety attack it causes. i feel these exams are inturistive to women.

  19. luxy says:

    Thanks for this caring honest article.

    I too am victim of this.

    Also as child and adult was abused, falsely accused, unjust punished, hit degraded helpless, beaten into false confessions, dependent, and no religious leaders, doctors, political parties, unions, foodstamp office, mental health services administration, has ever fought for me and my rights, to where some of them actively oppose me and my rights, and/or abuse me also.

    And the economy/society of USA EuropegGaza Afghanistan Iraq Libya today in 2014 does not value/ reward honest hardworking pragmatic compassionate humble people. Thus we live in fear, powerless,

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