Purpose: To explore girls' experiences having an external genital examination during early adolescence. Methods: Ten premenarchal girls were interviewed about their experiences receiving an external genital examination as part of a larger longitudinal study. Qualitative methods were used for analysis, looking for concepts based on themes and shared beliefs among the girls to create a model of the genital examination experience. Results: Most participants could not remember ever having a genital examination before enrollment in the larger study. The examination was best characterized as "weird," and many aspects of the examination were novel. Overall, genital examinations were not experienced negatively because of moderating factors like having support from mothers during the examination and having examiner preferences toward gender and personal characteristics. With repeated study examinations in the larger study and for those participants who reported their provider performed genital examinations, the examination was viewed as a skill for growing up or routine. Conclusions: External genital examinations, although a new experience for many girls, can be experienced positively. Providers should address concerns about this important recommended examination and acknowledge that examiner attributes, mothers, and experience of having examinations all influence how genital examinations are experienced.
- Genital examinations
- Primary health care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health