Making a Gyne exam safer and easier for those who have experienced trauma: part 1
Have you experienced trauma as a child, trauma at home, from a dysfunctional or abusive relationship (verbal and physical or where you are downtrodden), from abuse at work, from economic hardship, sexual abuse, from previous medical or birthing trauma or from mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety or a personality disorder?
These are all very common, more common than we realize! Surveys report 60-80% of individuals have experienced at least one adverse event.
Trauma affects everyone, all races, ages, and socioeconomic statuses. Some are exposed to higher rates, including families with excessive substance use, ongoing economic stress and poverty, or homelessness and indigenous families.
Add to that a Gynecology examination, a pap test or vaginal ultrasound, in an area which may have been negatively and terribly affected by the trauma.
Gynecology can be very tricky and unsettling for you, especially if, understandably and commonly, you are unable to share your trauma history, especially during the first few consultations, if ever. It can take months or years before some patients share and reveal their trauma history.
On top of that, we are a busy clinic. We have patients calling and asking to be seen ASAP, wishing to avoid long delays for an appointment, the fact that we are also a Gynecology procedure clinic, where urgent, unexpected cases are seen daily, such as for miscarriage, infections, heavy periods, abnormal bleeding that may be due to endometrial cancer etc. The surrounding medical services are overwhelmed with years long wait times, ER’s are overwhelmed. We want to help urgent cases as well as our regular planned appointments.
Then there is the added stress from prolonged time in the waiting room, because we have added urgent patients or some patients have additional, more urgent concerns.
How do we help to make your experience as best as possible?