Hi all.

I have an upcoming gynecology appointment (annual). This gynecologist always keeps a nurse in the room during the exam. I am not comfortable with the nurse at this clinic (there’s only 1) and it makes the exam very physically uncomfortable for me as I tend to tense during the exam due to my nerves. Generally, I’m not comfortable with anyone else aside from me and the doctor in the exam room though.

I was curious if this is required or if it is possible to ask the doctor to not have the nurse present? I realize this is likely some sort of legal protection for himself. I don’t want to request the nurse be removed if there is some sort of high legal reason for all of this. Would it be asking too much to have the nurse removed during the exam? Does anyone here have knowledge or experience regarding this subject? Thank you all so much.

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25 Responses to Nurse in room during exam

  1. Nwooeva says:

    It’ll help us answer your question better if we know where you live.

  2. Yknro says:

    I have a strong feeling that this is a legal thing to protect the Dr. I have been to see my GP (male) before about a vagina related issue and he has said he is unable to do any kind of examination without another female present in the room.

  3. Yknro says:

    This is from the UK btw.

  4. Enu99 says:

    Yep, this is how it works in Australia too.

  5. SseTuT says:

    It might be a legal issue, or maybe the clinic’s way of staying on the safe side even if there’s no actual legal requirement that that happens. Talk to them and explain it makes you uncomfortable (you don’t have to explain it’s this particular nurse’s that makes it so awkward for you unless you want to). Depending on the legal requirements you might be allowed to bring in a friend or maybe another worker (not necessarily a nurse) at the clinic can do it.

  6. Siaoya says:

    I recently had a physical and was told that if the doctor was male there would be a female nurse present and the way it was explained it seemed to be more for liability/protection.

  7. 66aNa says:

    Uk info.

    In the UK a nurse or female adult has to be present for Gynae exams. This is to protect both the patient and the doctor. In my case as the nurse wasnt about a female receptionist stood in. Maybe you could ask for someone else to be present?

  8. AetFire says:

    there is a legal basis behind it, but i don’t know if it’s “required”. is there a friend or SO that you can bring with you for the exam? or a non clinical office staff member that can be present that you may be comfortable with? unfortunately, i’m not sure that he’ll be willing to let it just be you and him in the room due to leaving himself at major risk.

  9. Xosofa says:

    Agreeing with everyone else here that’s probably a liability/safety/legal type of issue. I live in MA and just started seeing a male GP. When he did my exam he went and got a female nurse to be in the room with us. She stood up by head and kept me distracted by talking. I didn’t request here there and her presence didn’t bother me.

    If the nurse’s presence DOES bother you that much, what if you talk to the staff and say that the extra person (stranger, really) makes you uncomfortable and ask if there’s anyway you could bring somebody ELSE in with you (mom, friend, etc). They might not let you/you might have to sign some type of paperwork, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

  10. Ecnana says:

    I should have clarified, ANYONE else’s presence in the room (other than myself and the doctor, obviously) bothers me. It’s a very private matter for me and something I wouldn’t want my mother/boyfriend/friends to be part of. I like to focus and zone out a bit as well to manage any physical discomfort and someone else talking would be very distracting for me. My last OBGYN was very accommodating in this way, but unfortunately that seems to be a modern rarity…

  11. Sseyle says:

    I wonder if, even if they do require that you have someone else with you, you could communicate this preference to them and reach a middle ground. The extra person, presumably, doesn’t have to talk or have a real “presence” in the room. Maybe she could just sit quietly in the corner. Not ideal, but maybe closer to what you want than a chatty nurse standing next to you.

  12. Hteall says:

    I would ask if there is someone else, if you can bring someone, or if it’s okay to do just y’all. I have had an exam and pap, once, with a male ob/gyn, and no one else present. (He said I had a sensitive cervix, which A: I now realize was kinda incorrect, ’cause lots of people have way more sensitive cervexes than I, and B: sounds really creepy of him, but didn’t come across that way at all, since his tone was a lot more “Geeking out over medical stuff” — and I am totally happy with geeking out over medical stuff.)

    Good luck!

  13. Ecnana says:

    Thanks for your response. A number of comments are suggesting I should bring someone else in with me, but I should have clarified, I would prefer it if there wasn’t ANYONE but me and the doctor in there (which was how my last gyno operated, but he has recently relocated). The more people in the room there are, the more nervewracking it is fo me. Unfortunately, it seems my last gynecologist was a little nontraditional in how he did things and I might have to get used to things the way they are 🙁

  14. Hteall says:

    Perhaps ask that the nurse/someone else stand outside the (closed) door? I.e., if there were an issue, you could call out, but the nurse wouldn’t be right there?

  15. Ecnana says:

    This is an idea! I’ll see if this is possible! Thank you!

  16. Omoofa says:

    This really grosses me out. There’s one male doctor at the clinic I go to and I’ve had an extra person in the room before when seeing him and it made me extremely uncomfortable. I actually like the male doctor more than the others I’ve seen there and feel comfortable with him and needing someone else to come into the room before I spread my legs just screams “It doesn’t matter what you think, I’m a dude so I could rape you.” It would be less upsetting to me if the female doctors had to have someone observing as well because then it would at least be fair but really I’d rather have no one there who doesn’t absolutely need to be. I understand having the option and even having it be default so those who don’t know they can ask for it feel safe, but reading the responses here and finding out that I might not be able to request no observer next time I go (which had been my intention) feels really shitty and counter to making patients feel safe. I think I’ll still ask though. I hope we both get what we want.

  17. Ikiva says:

    I actually like the male doctor more than the others I’ve seen there and feel comfortable with him and needing someone else to come into the room before I spread my legs just screams “It doesn’t matter what you think, I’m a dude so I could rape you.”

    Or alternatively, it screams “You’re a woman, so you could lie about me trying to rape you.”

    But that’s apparently how it works at my clinic, too. My internist does my exams and it’s always just the two of us in the room, chatting away. When my mom had an exam done last week by a male urologist (different parts, same position), there was a female nurse in the room.

  18. Omoofa says:

    I wasn’t even thinking about that angle but that probably explains why you apparently can’t decline it in some places. Because fuck women’s comfort, doctors need to be protected against malpractice and worse at all costs!

  19. Ecnana says:

    I agree with this whole discussion. The whole notion of having someone in there to “protect me” just seems inherently patriarchal and infantilizing…

  20. EohNet says:

    It also suggests that just having a female present will make everything better.

  21. EcrNet says:

    It would be less upsetting to me if the female doctors had to have someone observing as well

    I’m not sure if this is the norm or not, but I’m seeing my first female OBGYN – I am more comfortable with male doctors, but I didn’t have a choice as I have a tumor and no health insurance. In the past I always had male doctors and female nurses. This OBGYN brings the nurse in the room with her when she does exams, and this GYN clinic’s nurse happens to be male. Again, don’t know if this is the norm or if it’s this clinic’s policy or what, but I would imagine the combo of male doctor/female nurse is more common hence most people’s experience with it.

  22. Rvlita says:

    I regularly visit my OBGYN (first for infertility treatment and now for OB) and a nurse is rarely in the room during the procedures/trans-vaginal ultrasounds. My Dr is a male, I’m completely comfortable with him and he’s always 100% professional, and I live in the US. So based on my experience, I say ask if the nurse has to be there and explain you’re more comfortable with just the doctor. It won’t hurt, worst they can do is say no.

  23. Ecnana says:

    My last OBGYN operated the way yours currently does. Unfortunately, he has relocated and now I’m having to do things this way 🙁

  24. Dri007 says:

    I’m in Canada and here it’s always been offered as an option when I have seen a male gyno- or female for that matter! I’m always asked before any exam if I would like a nurse present or not. I’ve also been asked if a student could observe or do the procedure under doctor supervision too. Maybe it’s that we’re all so polite here? Lol! But it’s always been optional and offered only as a comfort thing.

    In the US though where there is a lot more litigation.. I could see it possibly being a cover our ass thing. They might still agree to not having a nurse or other person present, though maybe as you to sign a form saying you requested/agreed to this? Kinda like how consent for students works here? If you agree to let a student do an exam, test or surgery under doctor supervision, you have to sign a form saying you understand it’s a student and have agreed to let them do whatever procedure you are in for if you go to the teaching hospital.

  25. LimTuT says:

    I assumed there was an ob/gyn shortage, at least in the Toronto area, where do you live?

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