Transgender Resources: 8 Tips for Making Pelvic Exams Easier for Men of Trans Experience

Apicha Community Health Center Dec 24, 2015  

For many trans masculine-spectrum folks, having a pelvic exam can be difficult, challenging, and even traumatizing. Apicha CHC understands your needs and hesitations, and wants you to know that having a pelvic exam should be a routine part of your medical care. We also created a set of tips to navigate your pelvic exam that will make you feel most comfortable.The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 48% of trans men reported postponing or completely avoiding preventative care out of fear of discrimination. The same report found that one in five trans men refuse health care because doctors and other medical personal misgender them. 

IMG_8269.jpgAccording to a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a “measurably higher risk of cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancer faced by transgender men who retain genitalia they were born with. Due to stigma and social exclusion, many do not regularly receive gynecological examinations and concomitant cervical and ovarian screenings.”

If found at an early stage, it can be highly treatable. A pelvic exam is designed to maintain your health and catch potential problems before they progress.

Click here to read our last transgender resources post answering "What is Genderqueer?"

 What is Apicha CHC Doing to Make the Exam More Comfortable?

We sat down with some of our trans masculine patients and their friends to figure out the best way to make people on the trans masculine spectrum comfortable during a pelvic exam.  We discussed the language that makes them the most comfortable, and how we could make the procedure easier for them. Below is the list of what we learned. 

pelvic exam transgender resourcesHelpful Tips for Your Pelvic Exam

  • Tell your Primary Care Provider (PCP) what you want to call the parts of your body that are going to be examined.
  • Tell your PCP whether or not you want the process to be described while it happens.
  • Ask your PCP to show you the speculum or pictures of what happens during the exam prior to the actual exam.
  • The procedure can be done with you sitting in different positions.  Discuss with your PCP which position is the most comfortable for you.
  • You can ask your PCP to divide the exam in two parts: Talk (questions) and Exam. You can have these parts on different visits. During the talk portion of the exam, you’ll talk with your PCP about your sexuality and the kind of sex you are having.  Be honest, we don’t judge!
  • Discuss with your PCP whether taking a pill for anxiety can make the exam more comfortable.
  • Set a “safe word” with your PCP so any time you feel you need some space, you can say it and your PCP will know to stop what they are doing.
  • Ask your PCP to let you read a book, listen to music, or have a friend or partner in the room, if these are things you would like. 

For more information on pelvic exams for trans masculine patients, download this tip sheet:

Transgender Resources

Apicha CHC Trans Health Clinic:

Apicha CHC has many other resources and helpful information for trans masculine spectrum patients. We also have a Trans Health Clinic that offers many services specific to the needs of trans masculine spectrum patients in the New York City area.

This clinic is for the specific needs of transgender and gender non-conforming, gender variant and genderqueer individuals.

Our Trans Health services include:

  • Personalized Primary Care
  • Routine Check-Up and Immunization
  • Initiation and Maintenance of Hormone Therapy
  • Short-Term Mental Health Services
  • Care Management

Please feel free to request an appointment or stop by a Trans Orientation Session to learn more about trans health and Apicha CHC's Trans Health Clinic.

This blog was last updated March 2018.

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