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Stress and Health Self Test

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

Responses: 40

By

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.

publically exposed

I am 54 & have a female doctor. She always has a female assistant with her. I am always in the almost useless paper gown. When she does a prostate exam, I am always put in stirrups since my prostate is higher up than usual. It is an embarrassing position, but what's the problem. they are medical professionals. It's not as if she was asking the receptionist to come and watch. If I have to be displayed like that I'd prefer a woman doctor over a male.
—Guest w

I don't trust them

I don't feel comfortable with male doctors, I can trace my distrust and anxiety back to a traumatic experience as a 3 year old child in hospital, stripped naked and surrounded by men (I assume they were medical students) - I started screaming when they came near me. My parents were not present and the only female in the room was a nurse I clung to, absolutely terrified. I have always avoided doctors, but have a great GP. I hate hearing the shocking abuse many face in hospital and while giving birth. I've been told I should have a screening colonoscopy, but find when I ask about an all female team I'm viewed as a bit pathetic...they're all professionals. I'm also told there is no exposure except the buttocks, I simply don't trust them, once your asleep, anything goes... A friend's husband was asked to leave while she was prepped for a c-section, but an orderly was allowed to watch her being shaved and having a catheter inserted...she was completely naked and in stirrups at one stage.
—Guest Liz

It depends on how it is done

I don't mind females giving a physical exam, but it depends how. If they lay you down on the table and use a gown, and are thorough, I'm fine. But I've had them tell me just to drop my pants in the middle of a room standing up, and that is awkward. It's also good when female doctors talk in technical terms to tell you what they are looking for rather than just leave you clueless. I'd actuall rather have a thorough doctor than one that skips over body parts because they are uncomforatable to examine...I've had that also.
—Guest brett

GYN surgury--Insensitive female gyno

I purposefully found a female gyno surgeon to remove my fiberus uterus. I made my modesty concerns clear to her, but never explicitly said, "NO MALES." It turned out she was the only female attending my surgery. The anesthesiologist, scrub nurse and assistant were all males. I was horrified. I agree to stay, but told them that I wanted to be awake for the prep. They agreed, but then the anesthesiologist without warning and against my explicit instructions loaded me with versed. When I woke up 6 hours later, I was furious. The anesthesiologist said he went against my wishes "for your own good." When I complained to the hospital administration, they agreed that the anesthesiologist should not have drugged me against my wishes, but that surgical personnel are "professionals" so I shouldn't worry about my modesty. I will NEVER trust a doctor or a hospital again.
—Guest Maggie

My Story (part 3)

recovering in a private room with my family. I complained the next day about what transpired. The cardiologist defended their conduct citing some drivel about surgical hygiene until I showed him (I was draped when he entered the OR); he immediately apologized, and assured me it wouldn't happen again. What I learned from this is that both genders can be insensitive to modesty and dignity. It's unfair to stereotype either. To this day, I regret not climbing off the damn table and walking out with just the sheet wrapped around me. I fully expected to be exposed but not in the manner or duration it occurred. The prep was supposed to occur privately with one nurse. Instead, two nurses decided to make it a public spectacle for a room full of people, most just staring. No one anticipates the door opening, you're bare ass naked (covered or not), and in walk the entourage. That's a difficult time to make a stand especially since you're in need of their "professional" care!
—Guest Anonymous

My Story (part 2)

completely exposing my genitals which I appreciate. Soon, a male nurse enters and without warning pulls the sheet down to my knees commenting the prep is inadequate. I'm thinking just give me the damn sedative and I'll feel fine. He leaves and thankfully the nurse covers me. Soon I'm wheeled into the OR, occupied by approximately 10 folks but I think the worst is over; they'll administer the sedative and I'll no longer care. The male nurse comments to the chief nurse (female) that my prep is inadequate. She proceeds to pull the sheet down exposing me to this room of "professionals," and I'm shaved from my waistline down to include the side of my genitals and inner thigh. I ask about the promised sedative while this is occurring; laughing he says "soon, you just lay there and relax." I endure this silently praying for the nightmare to end. In any case, I'm administered the sedative, the cardiologists show up, they do their thing, and the next thing I know, I'm (cont)
—Guest Anonymous

My Story (Part 1)

I served 23 years in the USAF as a pilot and therefore, I'm familiar with thorough and intrusive annual physicals. The only time I felt uncomfortable in the AF was with a female flight surgeon. While in my underwear for my physical, she asked if I had any issues below the waist; I replied no. I don't know if she could sense my uneasiness but I really respected her for the way she handled the exam. In 2007, I experienced an incident at home that required an ER visit and multiple cardiac tests over the ensuing weeks. When the problem was identified, my cardiologist (female) referred me to a large hospital in a city three hours away for a cardiac catheterization procedure. I check into the hospital and before you know it I'm lying nude on a gurney underneath a sheet. A female nurse wheels me into a room adjoining the OR and explains that she will prep me. While not comfortable, it's just the two of us and I decide to deal with it. She shaves the femoral artery area while never (cont)
—Guest Anonymous

PTSD-MODESTY

I agree there is lack of respect for patients with modesty and I suffered panic attacks at the idea of being examined. This is due to childhood trauma and physical examinations has only made things worse. People think it's a joke which causes even more trauma and panic attacks, I have read about people who avoid preventive care and just wait to die due to this problem being so severe.
—Guest Debbie

Modesty and Anxiety

I recently had some kidney stones removed, and received some unwelcome remarks from female staff. I am perfectly fine with having women professionals examine me. Rather, it is the casual, often flippant remarks which offend me. When I responded with anxiety at the possibility of catheterization, having never experienced it while conscious, the nurse blurted out "Oh, I've seen everything, it's not brain surgery, though some men like to think it is. . . " I felt very insulted. I don't care how many nude men she'd seen. I was nervous about having something inserted into my penis, and I was not wrong for feeling that. The worn out phrase "I've seen it all" only dismissed and trivialized my anxiety. Later, when I had a uretal stent removed, it was so reassuring that the doctor who did it (also female) simply accepted my anxiety, instead of turning it into a stupid joke. That's all I need, just accept that I am nervous, and don't try to humiliate me into shutting up.
—Kidneyman

my experience

I am a physician and was a patient. The stories here seem exceptions to the rule, I hope. We try to respect some degree of modesty, when possible. As a young medical student respectfulness of the human body and the patient's righs was repeatedly expressed. I am sure ther are bad health care providers but they are realy rare. Now for my story: I was recently going into emergency surgery for a kidney stone. I was uncomfortable with the pain, and was passing lots of blood in my urine. The urologist and the anesthesiologist were both male as were the technicians and aids. Thre was one female nurse. Interestingly, she made comments that made it seem that she was more embarrassedabout the situation than I. When te doctors were examining me, she commented that she would leave the room so I would have modesty. To this comment, I stated, are you kidding me? You are my nurse, and anyway in a couple of minutes I will be unconscious and you will see it all anyway!
—Guest steven

Good to know

I find it comforting to know that men are as modest as I,, I'm not married, never have been, and almost 50,, never had a man in my bed, probably never will, so undressing, and allowing a man i do not know,, to see every part of my body, well, to say the least,, is agonizing for me,,I have had some misfortunate experiences in the past, that has made me perhaps even more modest,, for this I have chosen to not have regular physical exames and test that should be done.. I have felt very alone in this,, thank you for your site,, I feel better knowing it goes both ways..
—Guest Lori

My experience

My experience has been skewed by my medical condition, but I wasn't given a chance to be concerned about modesty. When I was 16, back in the late 70's, I suffered a torsion injury to a testicle. My mother took me to a clinic. A female nurse took me back to an exam room and told me to strip to my underwear without offering me a gown. When she came back to take vitals, she had me step out and down the hallway to take height and weight. The doctor came in, and quickly decided that he wanted my mom to come back to discuss my situation. I protested that, but he was insistent. When she came in, he had me remove my underwear, so I was naked the rest of the time. That included a prostate exam, another trip down the hall for an ultrasound, and a discussion about how frequently I masturbated. Follow-up appointments were about the same. I'm sure I was seen by other patients, but no one made a big deal about it, and I wasn't scarred for life. You do what you have to do.
—Mike6280

Whats the Big Deal

I recently had surgery on my leg and I had all female nurses they had to prep me for surgery and they where all professionals no one has nothing they have not seen before and out side of the surgeon the surgical team where all females and I never once felt uncomfortable every one involved was professional and only had my best interest they only expose has it needed to do there job and take care of the patient so I say What is the big Deal everyone
—Guest John Doe

Judged?

In my case, that's like saying people don't like being burgled because they're afraid of what the burglar may think of their decor. Intimate parts of the human body may be nothing special to a healthcare worker, but to some people, it's a part of their sexuality. I have developed PTSD from what perceived as, what felt like, a sexual assault from an intimate exam being forced on me. As a healthcare worker, not everyone will be able distinguish your actions from that of a sex offender. The medical environment isn't this magical barrier that makes it something other than sexual trauma. Your perspective and intentions won't change the way people feel. Show the utmost respect, or run the risk of causing significant psychological damage.
—Guest Anonymous

DISSREGARDING THE PATIENTS REQUESTS

I WILL NEVER ALLOW A FEMALE TO EVER COME NEAR ME AGAIN WHEN HAVING CERTAIN PROCEDURES DONE TO MY MALE ANATOMY. IF THE DOCTOR JUST HAS TO HAVE A FEMALE PRESENT THEN I WON'T BE. AFTER DEALING WITH ARROGANT DOCTORS AND NURSES THAT JUST WANT TO GET THEIR ROCKS OFF I DECIDED TO SCREEN WHATEVEER DOCTOR I'M GOING TO SEE AND FIND OUT IF HE HAS TO HAVE AN ASSISTANT AND IF IT CAN BE A MALE ASSISTANT. I REALIZE THAT MOST MA'S ARE FEMALE BUT IN CERTAIN CASES I WILL NOT ALLOW A FEMALE TO SEE ME IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS. THIS IS FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS. IF THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY CAN'T UNDERSTAND THIS THEN PERHAPS THEY SHOULD CONSIDER GOING TO A VOCATIONAL SCHOOL AND LEARING A DIFFERENT TRADE.
—Guest BJW

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