Genital Exams on 12 and 13 Year Old?

Updated on June 15, 2014
A.H. asks from Longmont, CO
32 answers

Our old pediatrician moved far out of town so we switched pediatricians.

When I took 13 yr old DD for her check up, they asked me to leave the room. I was unaware that they wanted to to a genital check. I know they wanted to ask her questions about drugs and sex and they felt that she might be more comfortable with me out of the room. They had her fill out a questionaire, so I figured they wanted to go over it with her.

I didn't think much of it. Then they called me back in and DD was crying, her pants and underwear were off and she had a drape on her. She was standing up, not on the patient table. I thought maybe they wanted to check her thighs or something and DD was crying non stop. The nurse said, "Well, we need to look around her vagina." DD just shook her head and was crying uncontrollably. I have never heard of them doing this and she has never had a "genital" exam before. I told them that we are opting out of it because I wasn't going to make DD do something that made her uncomfortable like people looking at her VAGINA!! One of the doctors was actually an intern and he was male.

They weren't happy with me and the female "resident" said "Well, we would really like to look." and I said "Well, obviously she isn't comfortable with it and I will NOT force her. She's never had to do this before."

She was annoyed and left. We didn't see her anymore, just the nurse to give DD her HPV.

I took 12 yr old DS to the same place, different doctor and the same thing. DS said "Uhmmm, I'm an NOT taking off my pants, that's just weird." This doctor was annoyed as well and said that it's very important that I teach my kids to allow a doctor to do his "job".

I ended up leaving there fuming and saying that we will not be back and to forget our appointment. We had been there for over 2 hours and different people were in and out of there and it was overwhelming for not only me but LO (2 1/2).

Anyway, do your children get genital exams? Was I right for sticking up for my kids in their discomfort? Am I just being to protective? Should I have just let the doctors do their job?

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answers from Anchorage on

I started getting yearly paps done at 13 so yes, for me it was normal for the doctor to look at my vagina. Many young teens become sexually active around the ages of 13 and 14 and things like birth control need to become part of the conversation. I find it odd (and unlikely) that they did not explain any of it to you though before hand. If this story is actually true and events happened the way you claim, then I would find a different doctor. But it is normal and needed for doctors to take a quick peek, that is how they can determine if the genitals are healthy or not. How many 12 year olds would really know if something was wrong or would feel comfortable asking if something is normal? Not many, which is why the doctors need to take a look.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

I think you were right. In fact they could have said something when you made the appointment about a doctor wanting to view the bottom.

I think the first time I had an exam down there I was about 15 or 16. No need to be poking around until necessary.

Other question, do they do the HPV shot in the vagina? If so, that might have been why they wanted to be in that location. I have my thought about that shot as well and will keep them to myself.

Have a great day and weekend.

the other S.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I have an almost 14 year old daughter and NO WAY would I allow a dr to do a genital exam when she is NOT sexually active and has not had any problems. Especially, if she was uncomfortable with it. IMO that would make her feel violated.

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answers from Austin on

I recall when our daughter went to the doctor they have always checked her privates. It started from the time she was an infant.
We have always had a female as her Primary care doctors and Gynecologist.

Once she was in middle school, they would ask me to step outside while they did this part of the exam.
She said they would also ask her if she was sexually active did drugs, have any questions. etc.. and after that visit , she continued to go into the exam room on her own if she wanted (I always asked her if she wanted me in there.

IF I had concerns or questions, at the end of her exam, I always said," I would like to ask some questions. "They were always very professional.

I am going to guess different doctors do different types of exams based on age, Once a girl has her period, no matter what her age is, exams ramp up.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The big thing here is permission and education. If this was just sprung on you and your daughter with no prep, I'd change doctors. A basic exam seems appropriate, as puberty has arrived and they need to know if everything is developing appropriately. But a doctor should not get grumpy about it, they need to educate the kids about body health. If that hapened, then that's not cool.

Now, I don't think it's healthy for a kid to think it's weird to get a physical exam. He's going to have his prostate checked when he's older. He needs to know how to take care of himself. So if you have any hang-ups about sexual body parts where the kids would be uncomfortable dealing with physical exams, that needs to be dealt with.

Definitely find a doctor that eases them into it, with information as to why it's needed. And there should always be an additional nurse of the same sex as the patient in the room.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I did not have my first genital exam (aside from the ones when I was a very small child) until I was 18 years old--before I was sexually active, but old enough for me to not be uncomfortable about it.

No, you should not let the doctor just give your daughters an exam that they do not want to undergo. It's not like it's an x-ray--it's a very private exam and unless the doctors suspect your daughters have been abused, or have an STD, there are no grounds for it. I would not go to this practice again, and would write to the practice manager about your experience.

"No" means "no," even for doctors. I say this all as the wife of a doctor.

ETA: If you do allow the exam, a nurse should ALWAYS be in the room when you are not going to be in there. Even if it's a lady doctor, always require 2 to be there for accountability.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

My girls have their bits checked out and have since birth. The doctor always gives them a heads up and asks permission from both me and the child. She just says may I check your private area now? Mom, is that okay? And then she says something like remember that only mom, dad and doctor are allowed to touch you/look there and only if you are hurt or to make sure things are okay.

Since it has been happening since birth, my girls are not uncomfortable with it. If they were, I would explain that the doctor has a job to do and part of an annual exam is to have all parts checked to make sure everything is in proper working order.

I understand your reaction in the moment but I do think you should explain to your children that the checking of the nether regions is completely normal and appropriate during an annual medical exam.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My littles have always had their genitals checked as part of their general annual checkup. It's not a big deal, but I'm in the room at the time, and she gives us notice before she does it. It's a quick peek to make sure everything looks healthy. This is totally normal.

For your daughter, you might want to get her a female doc. And, given your daughter's age, if you aren't in the room they'll probably have a nurse in the room. I'm sorry this was such a surprise to your kiddos. It sounds like your old pediatrician might not have been very thorough.

Your post is confusing. When you say "genital exams," I'm assuming you do NOT mean a PAP smear. That is totally different.

Also, given your daughter's response, you might want to sit down with her and find out if something else is going on.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

Definitely right for sticking up for her in a situation like this; it is important that she knows that SHE is in charge of her body. NO ONE, not even a doctor, has the right to force her to do something that makes her feel so uncomfortable.

That said, these examinations ARE a part of being a woman, and she is getting to the age where she will need to see a lady doctor. (I think 13-15 is the recommended age...) I would say to make her an appointment with a gynecologist at some point in the next couple years and ask specifically for female staff. Make sure to sit down and let your daughter know what to expect, and offer to stand by her during the visit IF she wants you to. (You can stay by her head and she can still have some privacy.) then when she goes for her checkups, you can explain that they do NOT need to be down there, as she already has a doctor for those specific needs.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

My boys have always had their privates checked. Our ped lets them know she will be doing this and reminds them that only doctors and parents and only if it's to check on them and make sure they're ok. I'm very glad she does this, as this is part of their body, too.

I do not think this was handled well with your daughter at all. Yes it's good for them to talk to her without you in the room. But I'm not aware of any reason they couldn't have done an exam with you in the room.

I didn't have my first exam until I was 16 or 17. My mom was there with me, and it was still incredibly awkward. I cried the whole time. This was still so much better than what my mom experienced. She said she didn't even know the doctor was going to do anything until the exam began. It doesn't have to be that way.

It just makes so much more sense that checking private parts is part of a physical exam. The genitals are part of the body, too. Why would the doctor not want to make sure they are healthy? It's not ever going to be a comfortable exam, but if your children know that this is a normal part of a physical exam it should go a long way towards making it less awkward when they do need to have more invasive exams.

Your children do need to have these exams done. It might be better for them to go to a doctor who isn't going to just suddenly (and with no warning) tell them to take off their bottoms. And I really don't think there's any reason you couldn't be there. But you have to talk to them about it ahead of time. You have to let them know this is normal and good for them. They need to know that this is very important for their overall health.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Well, my kids are not as old as yours (10, 8, 2). But every year the doctor has them lay on the table and slides the underwear over and "takes a peak." She is a lady doc and my kids have never thought anything of it. She makes a note as to what tanner puberty stage they are at and tells them about good touch, bad touch. I am always in the room with them. I thought this was a pretty normal part of the exam. My SIL uses a different doctor practice and they do the same thing. Now I don't know if things are different when they get older and more self conscious. I think your doctor could have handled things a little better with explanation and keeping you in the room.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

your kids need genital exams. yes, you do need to teach them that doctors must do their jobs, and it's no big deal.
it would NOT be okay for a doctor to go ahead and do it without telling both you and your daughters first.
but this doesn't smell right to me. what parent doesn't ever expect her pubescent daughters to get their VAGINAS examined at some point?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

I have a 20 month old boy and a 7 year old girl. Our doctor does a very quick look, a gentle pressing under the belly button, around the pelvis, my son gets a little more of an exam due to being a boy, but nothing invasive and NEVER without me in the room! The doctor always reminds them of why he's looking, what he's looking for and that he'll only be touching a little and that they're safe because mommy/daddy's with them.

You were right to stick up for your girls, they should NOT have asked you to leave the room for the exam, especially without telling you they were going to do it. I understand the questions without you, I believe they are supposed to ask permission for that too before asking you to step out, but the exam, you should have been there, your girls are minors. Good for you and find a new doctor, also a good time to talk to your girls about ALWAYS telling you if something like that happens ever again with anyone. Even though they were doctors, it made your girls uncomfortable and afraid, it was a "bad" touch situation.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

My daughter is 5 and ever since we started going to her current dr. (About a yr old) she has always checked her ggenitals. She has always opened her diaper and took a quick look and pressed on her pubic bone which my guess is to make sure everything feels normal. Which I am fine with.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I honestly can't say at what age the sks had more personal exams. But if my DD were uncomfortable, I would support that and I would not want to stay with a doctor who didn't care about a patient's discomfort. When I was 10 and my sister was younger, a doctor we didn't know at a clinic did a physical for school. My mom was there, but we were all unaware that the doctor would include that part in the exam and there was no warning and no bedside manner. I was horrified and my mother was horrified that she didn't know and didn't know how to react. So I think you were right and they were wrong. Doctors have abused kids (there was one in my homestate who abused many children) so a blanket "the doctor is always right" doesn't necessarily work. IMO, unless there is a specific concern (like a UTI or other infection), then most girls can wait til they are 18 or sexually active, whichever comes first, for a more invasive exam.

IMO, a child who is already crying should not be further traumatized. If the exam needs to be done for a legit reason later, that can be done later. This is a child, not a robot, and it is an incredible invasion of personal space to continue under those circumstances. They should have just moved on and talked to you about it later.

You might also consider following the old pediatrician, since it is someone you know, and using local urgent care for things like routine colds.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


I want to call troll....

on the off chance you aren't a troll.....did you TALK WITH your daughter to find out what happened when you stepped out of the room???

Yes, at 13 other teenage years, the doctors talk with the child ALONE. Yes, a form is completed by the child and the parent...they talk about drug use, if in sex, if at all.

Yes, the doctors check genitalia.

Won't even discuss the HPV shot.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

When I was growing up, an ob/gyn type exam was something that was recommended when we became sexually active.
And it was an actual ob/gyn doctor that did this - NEVER a pediatrician.
When our son was young they checked him for hernia and to make sure his testicles had descended but they stopped doing that as he got older.

Find another doctors office.
I wouldn't go back to a place like this and I can not STAND doctors with huffy attitudes.
I've sometimes got to wonder if natural assholes are attracted to the profession or if it's something they teach them in medical school.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

The thing that is different nowadays is that many 12 and 13 year old kids are having babies every day. They need to check them. I would have told the doc that we'd come back but I would have supported the doc doing their job.

I think if you had realized they need to check them in that area you could have prepared her better. It's often easier for them to do this without mom in the room too.

Next time she goes to a new doc I think you might want to find her a female doc so she won't be as uncomfortable.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

The exam may be appropriate but having you leave without any discussion about it with you and your child

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My gut feeling is that you might be a troll.
Nothing you are describing is "normal" in any way.
For boys? It's a peek in the underwear.
I've never been asked to leave the room.
At 12 & 13, I'm surprised you were...or did!
Not is there ever a "group" of people.
You say there was a "female resident," a nurse AND a "male intern"? Really?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

If the doctor isn't going to do these exams then who is? Of course you need to let the doctor do his or her job. I know I would not feel comfortable having a parent in the room for an exam. It is more dignified to have the exam without a bunch of spectators.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My kids doctor just pulls their shorts & undies away from their waist (where he can see) and takes a peek. Just to make sure all is developing ok. I am in the room (head turned - I have boys). He talks to them about good touch vs bad touch, if things make them uncomfortable, etc. If they had been traumatized like that I would have left and not come back.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

I'm confused. It happened there with your son and you thought it was odd, so you took your daughter?

I am just going to say that you are obviously a sick troll getting your jollies from hearing these stories. Next time, pick a screen name you haven't used on bodybuilding sites.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I have taken my kids to two different pediatric practices. They have both always just told the kids that they were going to pull their underwear down a tiny bit and take a quick peek. I wondered if that would stop when they got older, but they did it at my 12 yr-old's check up last year. They have never once suggested I leave the room.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You need to write a scathing letter to these people. Copies need to go to each and every doctor there, as well as the business manager. You also need to threaten to call the local news and talk about it with them. THAT will get their attention.

A male intern should NEVER be in the room with a young girl for her first vaginal check. NO ONE should be acting annoyed or making a girl scared or cry. It's an invasion and can cause all kinds of problems later, for her future sex life AND willingness to see doctors.

It doesn't matter if it's "usual" to have a vaginal or genital exam, girl or boy, at this age. What is important is how the doctor's office goes about doing it. This is not like looking down your throat. Sensitivity needs to be shown and they should have told YOU in advance and asked you to discuss it with your child before the appointment. ONE WOMAN should have sat down with her and talked to her as if she were a young lady, including why the doctor does this at her age, that all women have these exams and why, and tell her everything that would happen. And yes, this takes some TIME.

You NEVER walk into a doctor's office for a checkup and just "make" your child open their legs for a stranger.

Those doctors in that office need training. You should make them consider it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think it is normal to have a genital exam, but I do not like how they went about it at all! Your daughter should only have female doctors/interns/P.A.'s/nurse practitioners (or whatever). Change doctors - for your son, as well (and he should have all male doctors). I just don't like the sound of this practice.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

My kids (2 girls) doc did the same as Hell on Heals. just a "quick peek" and NEVER asked me to leave the room! and also would always state before, "I'm going to pull your underwear back just a bit and take a quick look just to make sure you're all okay. Okay?" Then when DD would say okay he'd ask "Okay Mom" and I'd reply yes. Then it was just a quick pull back of the front of the panty put it back and a "poke" I guess over by the ovary. NEVER a full on PAP!!
Way to go MAMA for standing up for your kids, sounds like its time for a new doc! I'd NEVER TAKE MY KIDS BACK

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

You are never in the wrong for sticking up for your kids in any circumstance. I took my 14 yr. old daughter to a new family doctor where she got her 2nd HPV and a basic physical. He said that it is no longer necessary for young women to have a PAP Smear or any other type of exam for the genital area until they are 23 yrs. old; regardless if they are sexually active or not.

Also, there is NO WAY I would leave my child alone in a doctor's office for any type of physical exam - I may have my husband go with my son, but other than that, if they wanted to just talk then I would wait outside the door...

I'd file a complaint and seek a different Ped.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Seems like around the right age, but what a HORRIBLE experience! First of all, *especially* for younger girls, there should not have been any men involved. Second - why on earth did they think they should do it without you there? What a horrible office! I would NEVER, EVER return! I would absolutely call and complain (at the very least). And make sure to talk to your girls and explain to them that it should NOT have been like that even if it's a necessary evil.
Sorry mama - what an awful experience! :(

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

My two oldest sons have had this happen. They do it from 12 up. Every year.

They check their genitals at EVERY visit and have since they were born. Up until 13, I was in the room with them. We were military at the time, so an assistant was with the doctor and they were never alone.

My oldest is now 15. They gave both of us questionnaires to complete, the questions were actually quiet personal, about sex, drugs, friendships, home life, homework, school, stress, triggers, and much, much more. My son was in the doctor's office for 45 minutes talking with him about his questionnaire and concerns.

I don't understand if you weren't happy with they way they treated your son, you took your daughter back? Why? Did you talk with the doctor? I don't understand how your previous doctor never did a genital exam.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I can understand that these doctors believe they're doing the right thing, and on a purely logical level, they probably are. There is a great deal of sexual exploration and molestation that parents will probably never hear about, so in some populations, these checks may be in order.

But it sounds like the communication and sensitivity to the patient stinks to holy #@!!.

With no advance communication with child or parent, this would feel highly invasive and possibly traumatizing to many young kids, whether they are sensitive because of modesty or because they had been abused and traumatized earlier in life. I'd write a letter of complaint and try to get the doctors to see this from a young patient's point of view.

I'm so sorry your daughter was so terribly upset. She should have had a chance to at least understand why they wanted to do this and exactly what the exam would entail, and you should have been allowed to be present if she wanted that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Was this a PAP they were trying to perform? Talk to our daughter to see what exactly happened.

My son has always had his "privates" examined by his pedi; I was always in the room; and the pedi always gave advanced "warning" of what he was going to do.

So, maybe the doctor was just trying to do his job, but they are REALLY lacking in bedside manner and proper communication

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