Trauma, OBGYN Checkup & Coping Skills | Kati Morton, Therapist | Kati Morton

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Getting our first gynecological exam when we have been through a sexually abusive situation can be scary and overwhelming. Many of my clients don’t even go for their checkups because of the anxiety they have around it. Today I offer up some helpful coping skills and tips to get you through.
1. Talk to the staff. Tell them what has been going on and why you are worried. They can let you know what will happen in the exam, tell you before they move on to the next part, and just be move kind and caring during the whole process.
2. Work on some mindfulness techniques. This could be breathing techniques, progressive relaxation, or visualization. Our brain doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined, so maybe instead of being in an exam room, we imagine that we are on a beach in maui! Practice these over and over before your appt so that you when you are in the moment you can use them to help you get through.
3. Bring a supportive person. It can help so much so have someone we trust with us. Not only will they help make sure we actually go, but they can also talk to the staff for us if we need and hold our hand during the actual exam. Whatever you need, they are there to help!
EXTRA TIP: Bring a fidget toy or silly putty!! It can help to keep your hands busy during the appointment and they can also keep us grounded.
I hope this was helpful! Please share! You never know who may need this help and advice. It is so important that we all get regular medical check ups, that way we can have a healthy mind AND a healthy body, right?!? My breathing video: READ
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call a local emergency telephone number or go immediately to the nearest emergency room.
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I’m Kati Morton, a licensed therapist making Mental Health videos – Depression, Eating Disorders, Anxiety, Self-Harm and more! Mental health shouldn’t have a stigma attached to it.
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20 thoughts on “Trauma, OBGYN Checkup & Coping Skills | Kati Morton, Therapist | Kati Morton”

  1. I had experienced a traumatizing doctor visit when I was a child that had to deal with the pelvic area and ob/gyn visits have been absoulte torture for me. Even after being prescribed an anxiety medication for my visits, no amount of soothing from another person or explanation from my doctor helps. (She's awesome btw, so compassionate and understanding) I've had 5 appointments, all were a failure and had to be cut short. I just feel really bad about it because my parents seem to think I'm overreacting 😔

  2. I tried all of these for my first appointment. I brought my fiancée with me and I asked if he would be allowed in my private room with me to help me. I told them about my history and they seemed to be understanding but refused to let him stay. I had a mental breakdown and they were very uncaring and insensitive. Told me if I wasn’t willing to cooperate that I would have to leave. When it was over I pretty much begged them to bring my fiancée to me to help me get dressed because I was so shaky I couldn’t get my clothes out of my bag. They told me they would but never did. Safe to say it was single handedly the most horrible experience I’ve ever had at a doctors appointment. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.

  3. I communicate everything with my doctor. Even after the first one when I was still getting panic attacks, she’d ask me what she could do to help. Turns out that my trigger point isn’t somewhere part of a pelvic, it’s the breast exam. So for my last one she told me she’d check my right and show me the right way to do a self exam at home, and I didn’t have anxiety *as bad*, it was still there, but it was tolerable for the two minutes when she did the pelvic.

    Another thing is that personally, I feel more comfortable with a female GYN. I know other survivors who prefer men. It’s all what makes you comfortable.

  4. *Context followed by a question 😊

    Hi Katie,
    Ty for taking the time to vlog about such important topics. My background is in social work, and I worked as a Master’s Level Clinician before chronic illness left me with more intolerable pain days than tolerable ones. Additionally, I have a complex h/o trauma; and, coupled with chronic uro/gyn issues, I spend many hours per week at drs appts, pelvic floor PT, infusions, having minimally invasive procedures, and surgeries. No matter how many times I feel physical pain and/or have a medical professional helping me, the trauma response can feel unmanageable.

    Like you suggested, I engage in grounding skills and diaphragmatic breathing. I tell myself: “You are safe. It is 2019. The past is over. You survived!” Moreover, I do attempt to bring a trusted support person to all procedures/surgeries where I’m prohibited to drive home. Any other advice to help manage the negative feedback loop of anxiety -> adrenaline -> cortisol -> inflammation -> pain and back to anxiety. In addition to the fight/flight response, I often “freeze”/dissociate.

    Here’s my question, approx six mos ago, I was in an ER with intractable pelvic pain. The physician assigned to my case was a first year resident/brand new, (it was July). Not only was she puzzled by the equipment, which made me feel uneasy, but I left the ER that night feeling devastated and retraumatized. I did consent to the exam, but while she was performing the pelvic exam, I was crying/pleading for her to stop. I used the words “stop” and “no” repeatedly. While begging to at least take a break, the nurse stood idly by, and the Dr kept repeating: “we’re almost done, we’re almost done.” At that time I wasn’t thinking rationally but was left with the following question: “why does my ‘no’ never matter?” I’m also wondering, was I sexually assaulted that night?

    Ty for taking the time to answer this question. I know you’re only getting my subjective p.o.v., but it’s my truth.


  5. I so want kids and a have a relationship but I cant or wont let myself because I'm scared about the intimate part of everything I dont go out of the House because I'm scared of men even though most men aren't dangerous but seeing as this has happened to me more than ones by more than one man I cant trust them

  6. Another tip: When making your appointment, ask the receptionist if its possible to have a female or male doctor depending on which would make you more comfortable. If they say the one you prefer is not available at a given date, consider waiting until they are available if its just a routine checkup and you're not in pain or anything where waiting would be a bad idea. It makes a BIG difference (for me at least) if your doctor as a person doesn't creep you out. Again, maybe extra, but do whatever it takes to be healthy.

  7. I am super super anti- anything that requires me to remove my clothes and/or spread eagle. If I go to the ER, I am that annoying patient who puts the gown on over my jacket. Reasons: trauma, uncomfortable mommy issues, etc. However, I told myself not to give the perpetrator any more power over my body any longer and that means doing what I have to do to stay healthy even when its awkward/painful AF. Remember, doctors check these parts like we check our email. Its routine and they aren't thinking about you in that way. Also, I really think going through with the exam is empowering even if you leave upset, you'll eventually be like holy shit can't believe I survived that. So, my advice isn't really great advice – its just what I did. I made an appointment just to look at the doctor and ask her a bunch of questions. She looked at me kinda funny at first, but I let her and the nurse know immediately I'm not getting naked today I just wanted to give you a once over and ask some questions to see if this was even possible for me. She answered my questions and spoke me through what an exam entails and even showed me the tools they use. She also got info about my history, so next visit I felt less stressed. All in all, I had to pay for that "preliminary" visit plus the next visit when I got the actual exam, but it was worth it for me. I know it sounds extra, but its what I needed to do.

  8. Thank You for posting this Kati I was hoping you would have a video about it… I recently went to my Dr's and he wanted me to make a gyno appointment (its an integrated healthcare clinic so everything including mental health help is in one place) but when the nurse came in I kind of freaked out a bit she didn't pressure me to make an appointment I went back 2 weeks later to review my bloodwork and my dr mentioned me not going to get my papsmere done he said its just something you need to do for your health and its not a big deal a nurse came in after and was like what dates are you available for a gyno appointment I was terrified and couldn't answer then she started naming days I quicky answered not wanting to but felt I had to anyway I have an appointment august 7th and am so freaked out about it I don't feel ready to do this at all but I'm going to try I'm hoping they will be understanding when I get there its with a woman doctor so hopefully ill be ok

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