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Factors Influencing Young Women's Preparedness for Their First Pelvic Examination

Bryan, Ava Ferguson, AM, MD; Chor, Julie, MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000002749
Contents: Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology: Original Research

OBJECTIVE: To understand factors contributing to women's level of preparedness for their first pelvic examination.

METHODS: We conducted semistructured interviews with young women, aged 18–24 years, who had undergone at least one pelvic examination. This analysis explored 1) gynecologic and health care experience before the first pelvic examination, 2) preprocedure expectations and concerns, and 3) preprocedure knowledge about the examination. Interviews were transcribed and computer-assisted content analysis was performed; salient themes are presented.

RESULTS: Thirty women completed interviews. Thirteen women described feeling poorly prepared for their first pelvic examination and 17 women described feeling prepared for the examination. Factors influencing women's level of preparedness for their first pelvic examination included 1) age at first examination, 2) pre-examination knowledge of the examination, 3) medical trust or mistrust, 4) overall comfort with one's body, and 5) prior sexual experiences and trauma.

CONCLUSION: Preparedness for the first pelvic examination emerges as a subjective concept shaped and determined by the interplay of many factors. Although some factors such as age and personal sexual and reproductive health history may not be modifiable by clinical practice, other factors, including information that young women receive before experiencing their first pelvic examination, may be modifiable by clinical practice.

Preparedness for a patient's first pelvic examination is shaped by many factors, including age, pre-examination information, medical trust or mistrust, body comfort, and sexual history.

University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Corresponding author: Julie Chor, MD, MPH, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, MC 2050, Chicago, IL 60637; email:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

Presented at the Central Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, October 18–21, 2017, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center For Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number TL1TR00432. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Funding also supported through a Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship from Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

The authors thank Dr. Luciana Hebert for assisting with the quantitative data analysis.

Each author has indicated that she has met the journal's requirements for authorship.

Received March 07, 2018

Received in revised form April 17, 2018

Accepted May 17, 2018

© 2018 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.