INTRODUCTION: The study aims were to analyze the experience of women and their physicians of nakedness when moving between changing room and examination chair and during pelvic examination itself, and to assess the protective benefit of a wrap skirt in alleviating the associated discomfort and vulnerability.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: We offered 1000 women a wrap skirt for pelvic examination and asked them to complete a post-procedure questionnaire. Physicians were invited to complete a similar but separate questionnaire. Data were analyzed using χ(2) contingency tables.
RESULTS: 425 women (43%, age 15-78 years) completed the questionnaire; 51% felt uncomfortable and embarrassed during the examination, Muslim women significantly more so (p < 0.001). Most women (n = 255; 58%) rated the wrap skirt a significant improvement; 69% requested it for future examinations, significantly more so if the physician was male rather than female (66% vs. 54%, p = 0.003). Even one-third of women experiencing no discomfort reported improvement. Most examiners (n = 45; 56%) found the wrap skirt beneficial; 31 (38%) were unconvinced.
CONCLUSIONS: Pelvic examination as practiced in many countries, on women naked from the waist down throughout, causes unnecessary embarrassment. A simple protective measure such as a wrap skirt significantly alleviates the discomfort and sense of vulnerability associated with nakedness.