Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Is It Possible to Gross Out Your Doctor? Probably Not

Most health professionals have seen it all, heard it all, and learned to deal with it all.
By
WebMD Magazine - Feature

When a day at the office means performing 15 rectal exams or caring for patients with raging vaginal infections, one has to ask: How do you cope?

Who hasn't wondered (and worried) about what goes through the mind of doctors while they perform a thorough exam? After all, doctors often peek under the hood at areas of the body most of us work hard to keep hidden.

Recommended Related to Women

Mullerian Anomalies

Online. 3600+ members. Founded 2000. Support and information for those with Mullerian anomalies of the uterus such as bicornuate, septate, unicornauate, hypoplastic and didelphys uteria. Weekly chat, e-mail list and message board. Website: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/mulleriananomalies Verified: 3/29/2011

Read the Mullerian Anomalies article > >

Why It's Hard to Shock a Doctor

You can put your anxiety to rest, says Jeff Goldman, MD, a gastroenterologist with Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. "Fifteen years into my career and having trained in New York City, it would really take something extraordinary to shock me."

Elizabeth Houser, MD, an Austin, Texas–based urologist in private practice, agrees. "It's part of the job," she says of some of the ickier aspects of her work. "It's like if you're a mechanic and have to clean out a carburetor. It's just what you do."

According to Houser, anyone who has gone through a residency program has seen worse than whatever might cross a doctor's exam table in private practice. Case in point: As a third-year medical student, Goldman was sent to treat someone who hadn't had a bowel movement in nearly two weeks.

"I had to use my finger and manually 'disimpact' the patient," he explains."I got over my squeamishness of doing a rectal exam that day."

Sometimes such incidents leave new doctors unsteady on their feet, says Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at New York University's School of Medicine. But a quick recovery is typical. "Passing out is usually a first-time phenomenon."

Still, no amount of experience can desensitize a doctor to everything, Rajapaksa explains. "Just because you're used to the gross things within your field of medicine doesn't mean you don't get grossed out about other things."

Why It's Hard to Shock a Doctor

It’s common to feel anxious when visiting the doctor for an invasive exam. Best way to cope? Try to relax and remember to:

Laugh it off. A sense of humor during an exam can lighten the mood and make it go more smoothly. “It helps to put me at ease so I feel like I can do a more thorough exam if needed because I’m not forcing anything or making [the patient] feel like I’m being invasive into their body,” Goldman says.

Stay focused. Remember that the test or exam you’re undergoing is being done because you need it. Remain focused on your health and how your treatment contributes to it.

Seek comfort. Find a physician who makes you feel comfortable. If you’re not at ease with your doctor, discuss it with that physician or find someone new.

Reviewed on April 22, 2010

Today on WebMD

woman looking in mirror
Article
Woman resting on fitness ball
Evaluator
 
woman collapsed over laundry
Quiz
Public restroom door sign
Slideshow
 
Couple with troubles
Article
cat on couch
Evaluator
 
Young woman being vaccinated
Slideshow
woman holding hand to ear
Slideshow
 
Blood pressure check
Slideshow
mother and daughter talking
Evaluator
 
intimate couple
Article
puppy eating
Slideshow