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awkward conversations in clinic

so sometime in the recent past while taking a family history, my patient reported that her husband’s mother had a hysterectomy as a result of uterine prolapse. the husband then covered his ears and didn’t want to hear it, and reported that he didn’t know of this history, mostly jokingly.

i felt obligated to at least explain what his wife meant by “it was hanging low” to him. was that out of line? i’m not sure, but i had accidentally misinterpreted the writing on the family history form for another family member of “MVP – mitral valve prolapse” and “uterine fibroids” to mean all three of: MVP, uterine prolapse, and fibroids, and the clarification was what a conversation the three of us had earlier in her family history, which was why the idea of prolapse was brought up to begin with when we had moved on to his family history

medical histories and family histories are so revealing and often graphic to other family members in the room. I try and gauge what people say that makes others uncomfortable, but on the other hand, i tend to be a very matter-of-fact, this is what it is, it’s your family history take on it too. especially since we assume consent of the information if the patient brought that person into the room.

but it’s especially complicated because these are medical history information facts that my patient’s husband’s mother provided to my patient, and the husband perhaps slightly more oblivious to the details, didn’t want to hear. it’s just another gross female thing guys don’t want to hear about, right?

well, the damage is done i guess.

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  1. November 22, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I speak with women on a regular basis about some of the embarrasssing symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse and I truly see relief in their eyes to finally be able to speak freely about this aspect. Part of the reason for my awareness campaign is exactly because of this “in the closet” issue. All women need to be aware of POP because it is so common and once it becomes common knowledge, the embarrassment and stigma will go away just like it has with ED in men. Health issues are exactly that-health issues; it’s in our best interest to acknowledge them, treat them, and move on with our lives.

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