From Encyclopedia of Sex and Sexuality
Most women are very vocal about the fact that they hate having to get a pelvic examination. In reality, visiting the gynecologist does not have to be traumatic, and there are ways to make the experience better. But it is understandable why so many women do not look forward to getting up on the examining table.
The examination position itself is awkward. In order to be internally examined, a woman must lie down on her back, spread her legs open, and insert her heels into metal stirrups. In this position women often feel exposed and vulnerable, especially on a first visit or with a new doctor. It is important for a woman who is feeling vulnerable to remember that she is the one who chooses which doctor she goes to. A good relationship with your gynecologist is crucial. If a doctor does not answer questions or makes the patient feel uncomfortable in any way, she should choose another. In fact, a woman may have to visit two or three gynecologists before finding one she likes and trusts.
Another cause of anxiety is the internal pelvic examination itself. It can be physically uncomfortable. Relaxing the muscles is a great help. In general, it is a good idea to relax as much as possible. Deep breathing can help, as can remembering some pleasant experience.
Many women feel uncomfortable that they cannot see what the doctor is looking at or even what she or he is looking for. The reproductive organs may be a total mystery to the woman. Therefore she should simply ask questions. Whether it is her first time to the gynecologist or her one hundredth, a woman should come with a list of questions. She should tell the doctor anything that is bothering her, and ask her or him to explain what is happening or if there is anything she should know. If the woman is involved in a sexual relationship or even contemplating one, the gynecologist is the person with whom to discuss contraceptive choices.
Confidentiality may be another source of concern. Even if a woman is under eighteen years old, her relationship with her gynecologist must be entirely confidential. For teenagers this may mean choosing a different gynecologist than the one used by their mothers. A woman who shares the same gynecologist as her mother must make sure that her privacy is respected.
The best psychological approach to a gynecological exam is to take responsibility for the experience. Choosing the right doctor, asking the right questions, and relaxing will make the experience a great deal easier.