Jane's detailed account of her experience with the gynecologist was filled with anxiety, vulnerability, and discomfort, which began even before she arrived at the clinic. As a first-time 18-year-old patient who had never been sexually active, Jane, a petite brunette standing at 5'3" and weighing 110 pounds, spent days researching what to expect during the examination and confided in her friends about her worries. With a 32C bra size and a history of playing volleyball and soccer in high school, she was physically fit and maintained an active lifestyle. Jane decided to visit the gynecologist to get on birth control in preparation for becoming sexually active with her boyfriend. The thought of being intimately examined, especially by male doctors, felt traumatic to her. Jane's apprehension about the experience was understandable, as she had never been in such a vulnerable position before and worried about the level of exposure and intrusion that the examination entailed.
Her only previous experiences at the doctor's office were with a female pediatrician. She had undergone sports physicals before, but those only required undressing down to her sports bra and underwear, a far less invasive experience.
Upon arriving at Planned Parenthood for its affordability and because she had heard that it was mostly women working there, Jane noticed the warm, inviting atmosphere, which helped her feel slightly more comfortable. The staff at the reception desk were friendly and understanding, sensing her unease as they checked her in and handed her some paperwork to fill out. After the medical assistant took her weight and blood pressure, she asked Jane to remove all her clothing and wear a thin gown, leaving her socks on. Jane nervously complied, removing her shorts, t-shirt, bra, and underwear last. As she entered the examination room, Jane was relieved that the doctor was a woman. Dr. Patel introduced herself and asked Jane to sit at the examination table.
"Hi Jane, I'm Dr. Patel. I understand this is your first visit to a gynecologist, so please feel free to ask any questions," Dr. Patel said gently. Jane, too shy to speak, simply shook her head. Dr. Patel asked her why she was there, her menstrual history, and if she was sexually active.
Before Dr. Patel could begin the examination, Dr. Thompson, the male doctor, and Dr. Martin, a male resident, entered the room and interrupted them. "I'm sorry to interrupt," Dr. Thompson said, "but Dr. Patel had to step out momentarily. My name is Dr. Thompson, and I'll perform the rest of the examination. This is Dr. Martin, a resident who will be observing today."
Jane was completely shocked and wanted to decline and request a woman doctor, but she did not have the confidence to protest. She did not want to look immature or rude, so she had to comply, hoping it would be a quick experience, but she was wrong.