When a mother brings her little girl to the hospital with a concern of an intimate matter, it always opens a can of worms. Rashes and vaginal discharges happen, but we are taught always, ALWAYS to investigate for the possibility of sexual abuse.
It takes just a little bit of common sense to explain to the mother why this must happen in such a way that she does not become annoyed or defensive. What requires some teaching, in my opinion, is going about the examination without ruining the child’s sense of stranger-danger forever.
I felt a little out of my depth when I had to perform a genitourinary exam on a toddler the first time. But I’m a female and the girl seemed to understand that nothing WRONG was taking place. But she was not comfortable when I needed a consult and the only senior doctor available was male.
So I sat her down on her mom’s lap and explained to her that nobody can touch her “down there”, but sometimes a doctor has to take a look so we know which medicine to give. One has to be sure that she knows she can say NO, even if it is a doctor (or a teacher, or a religious leader, y’know?).
I think – I hope – that we managed everything properly and that the little girl’s sense of privacy and stranger-danger is in tact. I just wish we had been given a class or tutorial on such situations.