Women's experiences of the gynecologic examination: factors associated with discomfort

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2003 Nov;82(11):1030-6. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0412.2003.00253.x.


Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate how women experience the gynecologic examination and to assess possible factors associated with experiencing discomfort during the gynecologic examination.

Methods: Consecutive patients visiting the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Glostrup County Hospital, Denmark, were invited to participate in the study, and received a postal questionnaire that included questions about the index visit, obstetric and gynecologic history and sexual abuse history. The response rate was 80% (n = 798). The degree of discomfort during the gynecologic examination was indicated on a scale from 0 to 10. Experiencing discomfort was defined as a score of 6 or more, based on the 75th percentile.

Results: Discomfort during the gynecologic examination was strongly associated with a negative emotional contact with the examiner and young age. Additionally, dissatisfaction with present sexual life, a history of sexual abuse and mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and insomnia were significantly associated with discomfort.

Conclusion: The emotional contact between patient and examiner seemed to have great importance when focusing on discomfort during the gynecologic examination. Furthermore, we found that discomfort was associated with a number of factors that are seldom known to the gynecologists, such as sexual abuse history, mental health problems and patients' sexual life. Gynecologists need to focus on the emotional contact and to reevaluate issues for communication before the examination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Physical Examination / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women / psychology*