Healthy Male Genitalia

Updated on May 15, 2013
R.J. asks from Seattle, WA
14 answers

Im simply floored by the number of responders who were horrified at a 7yo boy getting a routine examination of his genitals (instead of a blown off quick glance w no real examination).

How to get our DAUGHTERS both comfortable & in the habit of taking charge of their reproductive healthcare (gynecologist, regular self breast exams, birth control, PAP smears, hygiene, knowing when something is "off", etc.) is a frequent topic of conversation on this board & in parenting circles.

(Vent: But boys deserve competent healthcare as well!!!)

10s of thousands of men die each year from prostate cancer, most of which are unnecessary deaths.
(And then there's testicular cancer, which is a YOUNG man's cancer)
FAR more contract & spread STDs (rather than see a doctor).
Even more have chronic urinary tract or genital issues from childhood because they've never actually had a comprehensive exam until its time to turn their heads & cough.

Do YOU do to promote the same level of comfort and proactivity with your sons' genital & reproductive health as you do with your daughters? Or are you a "quick peek at most" kind of parent?

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answers from Dallas on

I have no problem with a thorough exam; it was the bedside manner - lack of prep and respect - that bugged me.

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answers from Dallas on

To be clear, I think responders were horrified at the MANNER in which the doctor examined.

And yes, I don't care if it's a ASK before you touch genitals. Common sense and basic respect and dignity says you do. Adults do NOT have the right to just reach down and grab.

If I'm sitting on a table, I am NOT OK with my OB just reaching down and inserting her finger in my vagina with no warning. How is it any different with a boy? Bodies DESERVE to be respected, in every single profession. YES, you MUST ask to handle my son's genitals. That's called being a parent and allowing your child the respect they deserve. It's not the TEST, which I am totally on board with in every single way. It's the lack of respect for their body, that I disagree with.

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answers from Washington DC on


My problem wasn't with the examination, it was how the doctor conducted it.

For EVERY exam my boys have received, the doctor did NOT just reach down their pants WITHOUT telling them or ASKING their permission. THAT'S what i have the problem with.

I have NO problem whatsoever with a thorough exam being conducted. I have a problem with an adult telling a child to strip down to his underwear and then reach down my son's underwear to feel him up.

The bedside manner of the doctor sucked. The child deserved a tad bit more respect than that.

When my daughter had her first pap-smear - the doctor told her what she was going to do.

When my boys have had their genitals checked, they have been asked or told what was happening.

Heck when **I** go to my annual exam - my GYN tells me what she is doing...STILL.

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answers from Danville on

Thorough exam parent here.

My boys preferred a male physician, so they saw a male doctor in the peds office. My girls saw a female doc in the practice. Their gynecologist is a woman as well.

We are also very open about birth control...AND especially, condoms.

My kiddos are older now, of course, but have always felt free to discuss any concerns (health related or not) as we have had dialogues from a very young age.


Some doctors have a SUCKY bedside manner....

If that had happened to my kiddo, I would have addressed it right there WITH the doc...followed up by a letter to whomever headed up the practice.

BUT also, I felt my obligation was to explain to the kiddos BEFORE the docs appointment what was probably going to happen...and why. Then also (when I was still going in with them) had a running dialogue about what was happening....and reassuring them. Any doc we have had (and there have been TONS of them because of shannon's health concerns) have either had a good bedside manner...or let me do the 'play by play' for them.

Just MY thought

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answers from Miami on

R., the biggest point is that the doctor stuck his hands in the boy's pants without preparing him. His quip about figity testicles was not helpful. An exam is fine, but not like that.

At 7, girls don't have gynecological exams done unless they have a problem. We don't start talking about reproductive health at 7, for boys OR girls. What we DO talk about with children this age is the fact that NO one has the right to touch their privates except parents and the doctor, and only for the purpose of keeping them healthy. This was the main point.

It doesn't take long to look at a boys genitals. They are all "out there", even easier than a girl's. Explaining to the boy and warning him with propriety is what should have been done in this boy's case.

My boys learned about STD's and pregnancy between me and sex ed and health class in school. We have never held back in being very upfront and honest about their reproductive health, and discussing what sexual activity can cost. Being a mother of boys, I'm very aware of the knowledge that I cannot prevent them from getting a girl pregnant. I can't even take them to the doctor for depo provera shots. If I had a girl, I could possibly prevent pregnancy. So I've really worked with them to understand the consequences of unprotected sex and the understanding that even using birth control can fail. AND the fact that they have to pay child support for 18+ years if they sire a child.

It's all part and parcel of the same thing. But not at 7. And if a doctor had done to one of MY boys what he did to this lady's son, I would have let him know (not in front of my son) that what he did was inappropriate.

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answers from Fargo on

I wasn't horrified at the exam, but I don't allow a doctor to stick their hands down my pants and shove their fingers in my vagina without warning. Why should we allow insensitive treatment of our sons and daughters?

I don't want my son to fear medical exams. Our doctor is very informative and believes that talking calmly about the procedures that he's about to do eliminate fear or embarrassment.

Competent health care is a must! I just don't feel like a sneak attack of the balls is the right approach for a doctor to take.

*High five Bug! I just read your answer! :)

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answers from Dallas on

My boys were perfectly checked for any problems by their female doctor but one who told them what she was going to do and why.
I realize you think we are all stupid but sometimes respect of people and their private body parts is important. Not to the degree of ignoring health but some of us need some care beyond what would happen in the army.

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answers from Kansas City on

I guess we're lucky with our pediatrician who does a thorough exam AND has a good bedside manner.
My son is 10 and he knows the "look" is part of the exam.
Boys deserve the same level of care and respect, I agree.
If our pediatrician was not providing that, he'd be our EX pediatrician.
Why do people act like doctors are gods? You pay your plumber and speak up if something isn't right. Same goes for doctors. They provide a SERVICE and if they're not providing good service? Fire them.

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answers from Chicago on

As the mother of 4 boys, I LOVE your question!!

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answers from Sioux City on

I read the other post. None of us were upset that the doctor was examining the boy thoroughly. We were upset that the way he conducted himself during the exam. His bedside manner stunk.

In my family we start very early teaching our children that their whole body is important and that it should be treated with respect. We also teach that other people should respect our children's bodies as well. This doctor showed a lack of respect for the person he was examining.

My daughters have begun to learn NFP as a tool to identify when their bodies are not as healthy as they should be and later in life they will already know how to use this science to be open to what God wills for them. My son is learning how to respect his body and that of the woman he will possibly marry.

We teach that being intimate with someone is an incredible gift and should not be passed around to just anyone. It is with the upmost respect for themselves and for their future spouses that they save that gift for marriage. We have researched birth control methods and find that they interfere with the bodies natural cycle and alter the hormonal balance of the body leaving the body open to harmful side-effects. We desire that our children respect their bodies and be able to control their urges. This is true health. I find it incredibly empowering to be able to be a master of my body. I desire this for my children as well.

I think the key is that we all need to respect the bodies of others. The doctor was expected to give a thorough exam but not to creep the poor child out in the process. In the end it is better that the doctor make the child comfortable so that the child will want to continue to seek medical help.

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answers from Philadelphia on

the comment was a tad wierd but everything else seems normal. i have a girl they did emmy's exam and checked her privates without warning her, she looked at M. to make sure it was fine and i said its ok em and she was fine. they dont have time to discuss everything.
I have a guy ob too and he doesnt discuss things with M. unless neeeded

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answers from San Francisco on

I definitely take any issue that my boys have with their genitals seriously and as they get older, I will be talking to them about these issues. I think it is very important for boys and girls to have exams and be comfortable with their bodies. There is nothing on their body that is taboo----every part has a function and its very important for the doctors to recognize this too~ Our pedi is very good about talking to the children about their bodies and showing them what is normal and if something is wrong, how to tell etc. Good post!!!

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answers from Washington DC on

I didn't see the original post but from what I gather from the responses below the doctor had a horrible bedside manner.

I was blessed with two girls (6 y/o and 2 y/o) but I'm sure had we been blessed with boys we would approach their healthcare in the same fashion.

Our pediatrician does perform a thorough annual exam on the girls. One of the many things I absolutely LOVE about our doctor is that prior to doing so she will say "M, I'm going to check your vaginal area now to make sure everything is healthy there as well. But, we know that no one should be touching you in any area your bathing suit covers other than your parents when bathing you or your doctor when examining you!" I love that she reenforces this with all of her patients upon examination.

Now that I'm thinking about this, when I was pregnant "M" would often have to come to OB appointments with me. (I had to go for checks 3 times a week.) If she had to do a vaginal check or in the early stages the vaginal sono, she would tell "M" that she was going to check on how the baby was doing and would remind her that no one should be touching her in that area except her doctor during exams or her parents at bath time.

If a doctor is sooooo busy that they can't take 30 seconds to tell a child what they are about to do and why, then that doctor is too busy for me or my child period. I would not allow ANYONE to touch my child in such a manner without proper warning.

I consistently tell our girls that their bodies are their own and that no one has the right to touch them without permission. No means no, stop means stop right now! If I allowed a dr to perform such an examination without warning and explanation, I would be taking away their right of refusal. So how could I then say No means No? Nope that's bs in my book. My girls know that rule has no exceptions. Their body, their choice, thier right.

I'm an adult and my OB still gives me a heads up before beginning the vaginal exam and pap smear. I think it's a simple matter of respect.

Peace and Blessings,
T. B

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answers from Washington DC on

nah, i was pretty up close and personal with my boys' bits until they were of double-digit age, and then they were comfortable enough to ask me to check if they had any issues.
i LOVE the title of this post!
:) khairete

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