Women in the United Kingdom are being told by healthcare professionals they cannot receive an internal examination because they aren’t sexually active, going against the advice of British medical ultrasound guidelines.
five women from around the UK have been denied a transvaginal ultrasound over the past two years because they had been asked – by male and female medical staff – whether they were sexually active or “virgins.”
The exam, which uses a probe that goes two to three inches into the vaginal canal, is a type of pelvic ultrasound that helps doctors examine female reproductive organs to find the cause of conditions such as pelvic pain, unexplained bleeding, or cysts.
Statements of women’s
“It’s 2022, for crying out loud,” she told VICE. “Women have to lie just to get their health checked, because apparently our well-being revolves around men. This is what purity culture has done to us.”
Another woman, 26-year-old Sophie Hayward, had the exact same experience, only hers took place in Leicester. She said, “I don’t want to feel like I am forced to just lose my virginity to a random stranger just to get a test done which is beneficial to me.”
Denying women internal ultrasounds is not only wrong, it’s potentially dangerous. Certain conditions could be missed because doctors are refusing to provide care. That may be the case for Hayward, who feels desperate for answers as to what is causing her pelvic pain. She said that in addition to denying her an exam, her doctor told her it was “due to religious beliefs as I am a virgin and her beliefs don’t allow her to even risk breaking my hymen.”
“It is absolutely shocking and myself it was upsetting because at the time I was just begging for answers as to why I was in daily pain for over 2 years and felt like I was denied ways to answers because of my choice to not have sex yet,” she said. “I would have literally accepted any test just for an answer to my pain.”
Experts agree that there is no medical or scientific basis for denying women who are not sexually active this form of care, and as long as consent is given, all women should be able to access it.
Dr. Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told VICE, “Every woman deserves to have control over their own sexual and reproductive health, and no healthcare professional should perpetuate harmful myths regarding virginity.”