For some transgender men, having a pelvic exam can be nerve-wracking, even traumatizing.
A National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that nearly half of trans men reported postponing or avoiding preventative gynecological care altogether because of their discomfort.
The same report found that one in five trans men refused care because their doctors and or medical personal misgendered them.
According to the World Health Organization, the risks of cervical, ovarian and uterine cancer are higher for trans man who retain the genitalia they were born with.
But due to stigma and personal discomfort, many do not regularly receive gynecological examinations and relevant cancer screenings.”
"Some trans guys and gender non-conforming folks are somewhat unaware of what is happening 'down there,'" explains Robert Murayama of the Apicha Community Health Center, "so, to stay healthy, a cervical exam makes sense."
To combat fear and ignorance, Apicha came up with several helpful tips to make pelvic exams a more comfortable experience for trans men.
Tell your doctor what you want to call the body parts that are going to be examined
Tell them whether or not you want the process to be described while it happens.
Ask your doctor to show you the speculum and photos of what happens prior to the actual exam.
Discuss with your primary care physician what position would be the most comfortable for you to lie in.
Ask them to divide the exam in two parts—discussion and exam—either in the same or different visits.
During the discussion, your doctor will likely ask about your overall health, your genitals and the kind of sex you are having.
Discuss whether taking anti-anxiety medication could make the exam less stressful.
Set a “safe word.”
Any time you feel you need some space, your doctor will know to stop what they are doing.
Ask your doctor about letting you read a book, listen to music, or have a friend or partner in the room.
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