Our Bodies Ourselves recently received a wonderful picture of pre-teen girls watching one of their moms get a pelvic exam, complete with mirror and flashlight, along with a note about how the nurse-practitioner conducting the exam explained everything that was being done in simple, straightforward language.
As a way to underscore how much young women across the country are able to learn about their bodies through such critically important show-and-tell learning, we are inviting women to share with us (anonymously is fine) stories of how nurse-practitioners and other ob-gyn clinicians (including nurse-midwives, family physicians and obstetrician-gynecologists) have taken the time to teach them more about their bodies through use of speculums (some with flashlights built in!) and mirrors, participation in the “whiff” tests, and other approaches that directly engage women in the learning process.
In an era where the “yuck” factor is used to inappropriately encourage risky douching practices and use of scent-filled vaginal products that may be harmful to overall vaginal health, it is important to remember how valuable this kind of education during a clinical pelvic exam can be.
Moreover, clinicians who incorporate these recommended educational practices are helping to offset a conservative trend toward restricting information about women’s reproductive and sexual health. Access to books like “Our Bodies, Ourselves” is denied in some schools and libraries; self-knowledge is considered shameful or even dangerous.
Please share with us your stories as clinicians who provide such exams or as women who may have benefited from them. You can either add your story in the comments below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. And feel free to share and re-post this call
We plan to post these anonymously on the Our Bodies Ourselves website so that young women will be encouraged to respond with a “Yes” the next time their ob-gyn clinician might offer them the option of seeing their own cervix or learning more about their vaginal secretions.
We would also welcome emails and letters from ob-gyn clinicians who might be able to cite articles in the medical literature that point to the benefits of this kind of education.
Thank you for taking part in this discussion!