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Readers Respond: About How Your Sense of Modesty Affected Your Medical Care

Responses: 65


Updated June 26, 2010

Our sense of modesty, that embarrassment that someone will see our body parts, can cause angst, fear or frustration in a medical or healthcare setting. Whether it's a doctor or nurse of the opposite gender to ours, or the practice of not knocking on the door, or not giving us something to cover ourselves, sharing these stories may help the medical profession begin to pay attention to our complaints when they don't appropriately address our modesty concerns. Share Your Story

A Delicate Subject Part 2

As they moved me back and forth to adjust my placement, I was lying there bare breasted and it was extremely embarrassing. Health professionals need to be aware of the effect this indifferent attitude has on patients. I had to go to a different facility today for one more test and the techs were very conscious of my privacy. They made sure that the parts of me they weren't working on were covered. It made all the difference to me. I will certainly mention this to the techs at the former facility that they should adopt these policies.
—Guest JAD

A Delicate Subject

I recently had surgery for breast cancer and am now preparing for radiation treatment. If you don't know, you must go in before the actual treatment for a CAT scan and then they mark your breast for placement of the radiation to be applied. You must go back a second time so they can recheck it. There is one man who is a technician at this facility. I told the radiologist that I wasn't comfortable with a male tech. She said that she couldn't guarantee that she could accommodate my request. During my first visit, I was placed on the CAT machine (by a female tech) and my gown was completely removed leaving me naked from the waist up. I then had to hold onto a bar above and behind where my head was. The Tech suddenly left the room without telling me and left me there bare. She couldn't even bother to throw the robe over me. When she returned, she had the male tech with her. Apparently they had to move me further over on the board. Did she cover me to do that? NO.
—Guest JAD


When I was getting a shot for testoenoe I was in a small lab now where to bend over the nurse next to u and she tells u to pull down your pants and u do well as she turns towards u u she helooking down at my penis she give the shot as she raises up I catch her looking at it again then u pull your pants up it happens to be embarrassing and it seems to happen a lot
—Guest davidand

naked in Dr office

When I was a teen living with a single mom I got routine physical the female Dr always had me in my underwear .until see needed to check my privates .she then had me to remove my underwear to check I stood in their naked with my mom in their I did not like it but i5 had to be done be naked in the Dr office does noitt affect me at all I went to the local clinic for a rash the nurse want to see my rash before I saw the nurse practitioner at which I had the get totally naked in front of her to see the rash i t was OK
—Guest mark

No care for me

I worry so much as a man on this issue of not having my modesty respected I just won't get exams. When my wife wanted to stop using birth control she wanted me to get a vasectomy. I went in for the procedure and laid on the table naked from the waist down and shirt pulled up. the female nurse inspected the shaving job I did on myself as instructed before I came in that day, "how nice and smooth you are". Three different women opened the door to tell or ask a question. It made me feel like that dream when you are naked in public. I hated it and I won't go back and I know I am risking my health, but I will keep on making excuses rather than go through something like that again.
—Guest SDT


—Guest BJW

Long term implications

I think it is important for providers to understand that every interaction they have with a patient has a ripple effect and affects not only interaction, but also the patient's willingness to access necessary care in the future. If you leave a medical encounter feeling violated then you might be less willing to access care in the future and you will likely approach future providers with sue is io and mistrust. This is what has happened to me. Because of the bad actions of a few I now refuse almost all care and my current providers end up picking up the tab for something that someone else did. It is not fair to them as they have done nothing wrong. I think all providers need to be aware of how damaging these encounters can be.
—Guest Guest

The Issue of Confidentiality

For years, anything that happened to me medically got reported to my mother, long after I was a self supporting adult living on my own. In fact, it continued even after I was in my 40s and had a conservatorship of my mother! Nurses and doctors both would tell my mother every detail of every doctor visit I had no matter how much I complained about it to my health care facility/HMO. My mother was an overbearing "control freak" and a very anxious hypochondriac, so the last thing I wanted or needed was having all of my intimate medical information revealed to her. When I protested, nurses would act as if I had no real right to confidentiality because "after all, she is your mother." One doctor actually phoned my mother and invited her to be present at my appointment without informing me so that when I arrived for the appointment, there was a "surprise" awaiting me. When I talked to her later, I was angry. I told her I was an adult (age 40!!) but she still didn't get it. Made me furious.
—Guest Laurie

exposed again

well it has happened again. I found out I had prostate cancer. had it removed. had what doctor says scar tissue in penis had to have urethia dilated some steel bar inserted into penis. lots of pain and lots of blood. only doctor in room 3 months later I could not pee very well doctor tells me he has to dilate me again go to hospital after some time I am lead by doctor to operating room there are 2 nurses in there one comes to me and tells me to sit on the end of table then proceds to lifed my hospital gown all the way up then puts my legs.into sterups doctor comes and rams a silver rod in penis and says he will have to get a smaller rod as I must have a small urethia I am in bad pain but the dr. keeps on pushing in the rod into me then he tells the two nursres look how well he has healed from his proste surgery of course they both look at my privates.if I see him on the street well lets say iWILL embaress him

Nudity is normal when necessary

I have been in the healthcare field for almost 40 years now. There are times when a patient has to be totally naked for a complete emergency exam, so nothing gets missed. That being said, after that a certain amount of being as discrete as possible is needed. I have been in pre=op in surgery, and when the patient is put under, then they are uncovered until they are draped. There are reasons for this: to observe respiration, and to avert any source of sparks (to avoid interaction with medical gases). Once a person is draped, only the operative part was exposed. I have had to catheterize both men and women, and a certain amount of nudity is necessary. I have seen many genitals in my life, and am not turned on in a medical setting. I have had to pack a massive wound in a vagina, and my whole hand had to go into the vagina to pack the wound while other people held the woman's legs apart. I have assisted at childbirth and helping and MD with a miscarriage. These were non-erotic in nature.
—Guest Gary, RN

Exposed after Heart Attack

I had heart attack. Doctor at Yale left me exposed on table. Resident (man) was so embarrassed, he covered me with wet antiseptic cloth (Very cold!). The Doctor doing the cath (Another woman) had a frozen silly grin and looked away from my genitals. I ignored it all. I saw the surgeon a month later, She held up her little pinky. Bad doctor.
—Guest heart attacked

Birth trauma

The Birth Trauma sites contain shocking accounts of women left traumatized after medical abuse, including shocking violations of bodily privacy and dignity. Some women felt dirty and worthless after the ordeal, many develop PTSD and go on to avoid doctors, or have a home birth next time and some choose not to have more children to avoid putting themselves in harms way again. Some women had to give birth with an audience in teaching hospitals, had male doctors, midwives and nurses forced onto them...and felt there was zero respect for women and their feelings, others describe what some call birth rape, exams with no consent. I chose not to have children, but feel so sorry that childbirth is such an ugly thing for many women. It reminds me of an older lady who gave birth at home with a midwife who kept the teapot full...it sounded like a gentle and supportive environment, in sharp contrast to the medical brutality and insensitivity so many women face now.
—Guest DLB


you have to be your own advocate. have a medical power of attorney! carry any denial of cosent with you. this may not stop an invasion of your person, but it will give you grounds to sue. contact a lawyer, and have eveything documented, again further grounds and support for a suit. and always remember federal law allows the patient the right to deny any type of treatment to his or her person, regardless of consequence. in my case I was actually held down and a catheter was forced on me, for this assault I received an out of court settlement. the settlement was not what I wanted, but it at least cost the bastards!!
—Guest stephen beard

doctor left the room

I was admitted to hospital because of severe pain in lower back. After some time it was deturmened that i had a large kidney stone that was stuck in my urethia. I was told that i could have it removed in the morning by a urogist I concented. L was put on the operating table naked under a sheet . the doctor who was supos to put me to sleep could not get the needle in me so i was awake when the doctor came into the operating room and threw the sheet off me exosing me. I quickly rose completly up put the sheet back over me and said very loudly doctor do you mind waiting until i am put to sleep there are woman in here you know i heard some giggles and the doctor left the room i was finaly put to sleep and woke up with the stone removed oldrguy107

A Question of Self Respect

This modesty issue is NOT embarrassment, of our bodies, it is self-respect. I know in this day, men and women flaunt there bodies everywhere, however there are those of us that dont, the few left ..... I am the patient, if the doctor or facility does not give me the respect of keeping females away with I must be exposed, they are going against there oath of "First do no harm" Forcing a patient that is modest (not embarrassed) to be exposed to people they do not want to be exposed to, is HARMFUL to that patient. It does NOT matter how more difficult it would be to the doctor, they are paid to deal with all types of patients not just the non-modest, let my entire body be on the 5 o'clock news, type of patients... And for me the specific restrictions are written in my advance directive, & my family knows. "Go ahead doc, show his body to everyone to cure him. He will spend the rest of that life hunting you down.
—Guest Bad Trisha

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