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Pelvic exam anxiety

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Women Veterans

Pelvic exam anxiety

Pelvic exams are helpful for many reasons, such as reducing a woman’s risk of cancer, treating genital and pelvic infections, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, diagnosing pelvic pain and figuring out why a woman is having urinary problems. If you feel anxious about pelvic exams, you’re not alone. Many women are nervous about pelvic exams, fearing something bad will be found, expecting pain, feeling a loss of control over their bodies or worrying that they’ll have to talk about their sexual practices. Women may also feel embarrassed about undressing or exposing their genitals. Women who have experienced sexual trauma may be reminded of the trauma during pelvic exams.

Some women are so anxious that they avoid needed pelvic exams. Others go to the exams but feel intensely distressed, experiencing panic attacks, flashbacks, or other signs of anxiety.

If a pelvic exam has been recommended for you and you’re anxious about it, consider telling your primary care provider, gynecologist or mental health clinician about your concerns. They can help you prepare, and the gynecologist can modify the exam to reduce anxiety.

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