"Who said it's OK to put your fingers inside of me?"

Putting fingers inside of a woman's vagina is pretty intimate isn't it? If someone's going to do that, they better have a pretty good reason for doing so, right? So apart from in the context of sexual intimacy, what are the pretty good reasons for putting those fingers in and if the reasons aren't pretty good, then why do it? It is so common to check a woman's cervix weekly towards the end of pregnancy, that many women expect it. I will be asked frequently "When do you start checking me?" Of course, if a woman is not in labor, she is not in labor, so what is the point of checking,.... to see if it could be happening soon? OK if that were really predictable. OK if that were something useful to know. OK, if a woman has been having a lot of concerning preterm contractions. OK if a woman has a complication such a high blood pressure and she may need induction, (sometimes induction is a necessary medical tool). But most women, in most pregnancies do not need those fingers.

It is also a standard part of a "well woman exam" to put the fingers inside. The healthcare provider palpates the size, mobility, tenderness of the uterus (bimanual exam) and the potential tenderness of the cervix as well as for ovarian enlargement or tenderness. I also learned in my midwifery education that a rectal exam (fingers up the butt....) is a necessary part of this "healthcare" procedure to palpate for potential masses. (I once got into trouble with a midwifery preceptor for skipping the rectal exam). We have been questioning the evidence in obstetric managed birth, but what is the evidence for the fingers? Turns out...... not much. (A recent article in the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health states "The bimanual examination yields little information in asymptomatic women")

So, I ask, what is it all about? I think that we need to consider the sociological meaning of healthcare actions. People at a medical appointment expect physical touch, palpation. But when they are at a wellness appointment, they do not need to be touched unless it adds necessary information to an evaluation. Lacking in confidence, trust in our bodies and their symptoms, we may expect physical evaluation to reassure us of our own health. When we go to a healthcare provider with a symptom such as pain, we rightly expect to be touched as part of a comprehensive evaluation of our condition. But if we feel well, we generally do not need to be touched. That should be the rule of thumb/fingers.

If internal exams are unnecessary, we come to the disturbing conclusion that the normalization of that invasive procedure is about power: the willing subjugation of the patient as well as the subconscious (we assume) exertion of power by the healthcare provider (often a male physician). This is very disturbing. Fingers out!