Can I refuse a pelvic exam?

I am seeing the gyno tomorrow but I am terrified. I am 15, virgin, have never inserted anything into me (yes, even tampons) and know the gyno will most likely do a pelvic exam where she inserts 2 fingers to check for abnormalities. I know that 'its a fact of life' but this is the one thing I dread. Trust me, I have done more tests than I can count and have gotten over the initial fear but this is different. I have never been abused but thanks to the media and stories I am absolutely terrified of being assaulted myself. I fear sex, I fear masturbation and I certainly fear doctors having to go down there. I have tried to insert things to prepare myself for the appointment before but it is so painful and I can not go anywhere. Once my GP thought I had thrush so prescribed me thrush cream which involves having to insert an applicator into you and that was a nightmare. I thought that I didn't even have a vagina because I could physically not make the applicator enter, I read that it may be because of my hymen so that only scared me more about the appointment knowing pain will be involved. I have already had an ultrasound to check for ovarian cysts so is this really necessary? I have had panic attacks for months over this dreaded appointment and honestly know that I will most likely run out the room the moment I see the exam chair/bed. My mum has tried everything to calm my nerves but there just is no point I am literally freaking out over this.

15 Replies

  • I feel for you. Normally doctors wouldnt go inside if you are a virgin. There is no need with ultrasound and MRI scans which can give information. If you have a lot endo pain - maybe its different. You and your mother should go in together. If you are worried about abuse, ask your mother to stay with you during that appointment. Begin with telling the doctor how you feel and that you do not want internal examination. 

    Would you feel better going to a female doctor? 

    The main thing is that you doctor is gentle and understanding. My experience shows that the best are elderly, UK born and educated doctors. 

    Good luck. And the main thing is that you mum stays with you all the way through the appointment.

  • Sorry, I didnt write answer to your question. You can absolutely refuse you internal exam. But that also can mean that the doctor can not give you answers. But if you feel that you should refuse, just say so. It is your body, you have 100% rights over it. Even I have refused internal exam once when I had a lot of endo pain. And I regulary ask male students to leave if I need internal exam.

  • Thankyou so much for your reply, I want my mum with me the whole time, I tried asking for a female (I have nothing against male doctors but I'm always more comfortable around woman) but I am in the public (government funded) health system in Australia and you don't get much choice, basically you "get what you get". I am just so terrified because most girls have an idea what to expect feeling wise because they have inserted things before, but for me I literally have no idea. One part of me is saying no don't do it, and the other is saying if I want to know what's wrong with me I need to. So much anxiety at the moment :( thank you for the support though it does mean a lot xx

  • They may not do an internal examination. I've never had one. But you may be required to do swabs which you could probably do yourself. Yes you right it's a way of life your only 15 in years to come you will understand the importance of swabs etc and probably won't be bothered about it one day. If your in pain you need to let them investigate but I would recommend pushing for a laproscopy if you suspect you have endo. 

  • Both me and my mum will be pushing for a laparoscopy. I'm happy to do swaps, infact I've done them before, and for them to look but the idea of inserting is causing me a lot of anxiety. I know I'm going to have to accept sometime soon that there is a potential reality that I will be doing these a lot through out my life. It's just so hard to come to terms with - I see all my friends enjoy their youth and not having to worry about these things...but I do. I feel like I'm growing up too fast, and it's not my choice :(

  • :( I do feel for you I'm exactly the same. If they were to do an internal they would use lubricant so you wouldn't be uncomfortable. Hopefully they refer you for a lap then you can get real answers. If your not already on the pill try that back to back it's really helped my symptoms ease 

  • Explain how you feel to the dr. Take your mum with you. They can't do anything you don't want to have done. But you will not get answers immediately. I had severe endometriosis from about 16 and know how you feel.  I had to have examinations and scans and although it is uncomfortable it is over very quickly. 

    The dr has to have a witness with them because of all media allegations usually a nurse.  Let us know how you get on. 

  • Hi there,

    Not knowing your symptoms if is difficult to advise. 

    Pelvic exams are often for older ladies.

    May be you need to see a gastroenterologist if you have tummy pain. He can refer you on.

    Don't worry the consultant will prob get more info with an ultrasound.

    Of course you can refuse an examination.

    Don't worry if will all be fine.

  • I expect by now you have or havenot had a pelvic exam. Your fear is something that needs to be over-come as you are getting panic attacks. There are Doctors who can help you with this. You need to get your GP to refer you to a Doctor that can help you with your mental health issues. This needs to be over-come for you to be able to have relationships in the future and have your own family one day. Please seek the help you need. You deserve to be happy and not worrying about this.

  • I understand your fears completely, because this is a very big threshhold to cross. I can imagine it can feel very shy about being examined  in this way. But on the other hand, sometimes experiences that are scary can lead to growth. Women need gynecological exams their whole lives. That is a fact. And the sooner you face that reality in a healthy way, the less stress you will have. It is a normal part of being a human female. And, being a female human being is a beautiful, wonderful thing you should be very proud of. Our bodies are absolutely miraculous. I recently read a book called Woman by Natalie Angier, and I recommend it. It talks about how amazing women's bodies are, how our reproductive systems work and create life. Think about it. We not only have all the ability that men have to think and imagine and create ideas, but we can also create actual human beings. Our bodies, starting from 11 or so, are preparing for the most serious task that human beings can possibly undertake. The mystery and wonder of being us is just so profound I still can't believe it, and I am a grown woman who has had two children. One of the ways that I got over my shyness with health care providers is by building relationships with these doctors. And realizing that my doctors do this work because they want me to be healthy. They may be looking at genitals, but they are FEELING my humanity, my doctor's heart to my heart. A good doctor is a justice seeker. If you don't have good health, you do not have a fair life. And you deserve a good chance for a good life. So getting the health care you need, even if it involves going through experiences that might make you uncomfortable at first, is a way of getting justice for yourself. And it's a way of honoring yourself as a woman. And remembering that there is nothing shameful about the parts of you that make you a woman. They are the parts of human beings that generate life and let human beings be alive, and are beautiful, powerful, and miraculous.

  • I know it can be hard to overcome this hurdle but sometimes it is necessary.  I remember sitting in a bathroom when I was 17 trying to insert my first tampon.  I was in there for hours and was convinced that something was wrong because I couldn't get the courage to just put it in.  The first time I had anything inserted was when I was 19 for my first pelvic exam.  It actually helped a lot because I wasn't the one that had to do it, all I had to do was relax.  Once I realized what it felt like and that it didn't hurt then it was super easy at home to use tampons and not be scared for intercourse.  Unfortunately this is a part of life and you will need to come to terms with it at some point.  You can always refuse a pelvic exam the first time you meet the dr. and then request a sedative such as valium for a follow up visit (with you mom of course).  It would maybe help you relax during the exam.

  • You  can definitely refuse a pelvic exam. When ever you do feel ready I would ask for lots of lubricant, a pediatric size device they use and possibly even send valium home to take  One hour ahead of time. Maybe you can get that valium when you go in this time so when you reschedule you will have taken the valium, it will definitely relax you.   I take a Valium before some of my invasive appointments to this day, because you don't want to clinch and tighten as being relaxed is the best .   Do you have pelvic pain or pain down there?  Is that why you do not want an exam?   If you do please try and get help for your pain. See euro gynecologist, urologist,  pelvic pain specialist or a pelvic physical therapist .   You definitely need to address your pain sooner rather than later.   If you have more pain during your periods going on the birth control pill is a good idea, ask your doctor.    I've always had male doctors too. I'm 50 now but I do remember always hating going to the gynecologist.   What helped me is just realizing that for them it's just their job they do every day. So instead of a mechanic looking under the hood of a car you have the doctor looking Inside your vagina.....just another vagina....

    Things will get easier!

    Best of luck to you.   

  • Hi!

    You poor thing, I totally sympathise with you on this...I don't have internal examinations at all, so it is fine to say no. As a piece of advice, when you go into the appointment and sit down, normally the dr will say something like "hello, I've read your referral, what can you tell me about your problem?" (I was diagnosed with endometriosis aged 16 after a lengthy diagnosis process and I'm now 33, so I've had a lot of appts!!). At this point I would begin by saying something like: "can I just tell you before we talk about why I'm here that I'm really nervous and don't want to have an internal exam is that ok?!"   Or maybe your mum could say it for you as you first go in. The reasons I would say it first is that the dr then knows that he has to get more info from speaking to you than he may have done and also you will be relieved straight away, then can talk more about your health and will more than likely remember everything you want to say. If you are scared about the internal it's likely that is all you will be thinking about! He might just say "that's ok I have your scan results here that won't be necessary!" Also there are two main things an internal shows, one is the appearance of the cervix, which they look at, the other is to feel for ovarian cysts, which if you've had an ultrasound they don't need to do it...they would normally do this before sending you for a scan, so as you've already had a scan they might not even want to do one anyway!

     I know that when I was your age the thought of talking about gynae things to a man was awful, but I soon discovered that in general the men were better to talk to than the women...I know it's odd but I think it's because they don't know what it's like, so they make more effort to understand and sympathise with you, so if it is a man it prob won't be as bad as you think, but I know everyone's experiences are different so you can never say for sure!

    Don't get hung up on the internal worry, lots of people refuse them for lots of different reasons and luckily medical advances mean that there are other ways of viewing our insides! I hope your appointment goes well, if you are feeling really nervous don't be afraid to make a list of things you want to ask or say, even if your mum keeps hold of it for you...I'm 33 and I still take my mum with me to these appts, even though I have a PhD in medicine I still forget things when it's about me as I get really nervous too...I still think to myself what if they insist on an internal, what am I going to do....And that has NEVER happened, but I still worry all the same lol!! I have found that telling myself that whatever happens I'm not being examined it helps my nerves a lot. Also I tell my mum this and I know that she will back me up if necessary, which again has never had to happen (!) but it makes me a lot calmer beforehand! You definitely do not need to have any examination or test that you don't want to have. If a dr feels that any kind of invasive test is really really necessary, you can have a sedation for's not technically a general anaesthetic as you breathe for yourself, but from your point of view you would be completely asleep and wouldn't feel anything! That's one to bear in mind for the future! Just one more thing... please don't think you need to practice putting things inside yourself to prepare for this kind of thing, I understand your thinking, but it really isn't a good idea, the tools they use are a specific shape and they are taught how to do it properly, plus they are completely sterile...and if you ever have thrush again there are tablets to swallow and creams to apply to the outside that you can have first...sometimes the pessaries work better if its severe thrush, but as a first resort the tablets are fine! I hope this helps a bit!

    Take care, Saz xxx

  • I totally feel for you. My daughter went through something very similar. She was 14. She had endometriosis. She was very upset. She did get a female doctor. She wanted to know what kind of people would be in this business. So when the doctor came in I just asked all her questions for her in advance. She was very embarrassed. But the woman's answers helped her a whole lot. She did need an exam because of her pain. They did an internal ultrasound and found she had ovarian cysts. She is much better now. Having been diagnosed. It was a hard time in her life but she made it through.

  • Thankyou all sooooo much! She didn't suggest a internal exam thankfully, though I'm having mixed feelings over the appoitment outcome. She told me that they don't want to do laparoscopies on 15 year olds. And that endo is more related to the time of your period. Despite me telling her I have constant pain that worsens on my period. I have to come back in three months to let her know how I feel after changing the pill. 

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