The first pelvic examination

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2007 Mar;28(1):7-12. doi: 10.1080/01674820601035136.


Purpose: To describe adolescents' experiences of their first pelvic examination.

Methods: Data were collected by tape-recorded interviews with 15 adolescents, who had had their first pelvic examination (PE) performed by a midwife at a Youth Clinic. Data were analyzed by qualitative latent content analysis.

Results: The result is presented in terms of the themes: Emotional ambivalence, Being in control and A step into women's world. The adolescents generally believed that PE was beneficial to their health and they were curious to see how they would manage. On the other hand they also felt embarrassed about getting undressed. They described several factors which contributed to feelings of being in control of the situation, e.g., when the examiner shared the process of decision making, thoroughly explained the PE procedure in advance, and assured them that the PE could be discontinued at any time. They considered their first PE as a step into a women's world. It seems important that the examiners perform the first PE in a manner that empowers the adolescents so they can enter womanhood with a positive attitude to their bodies. Furthermore, this empowering process may lay the foundation for subsequent PEs to be educational events for the adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adolescent Health Services / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Midwifery / organization & administration
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology*