May 302011

“Oh honey, don’t put your hand in there. Your vagina is dirty. Only I can can check your cervix without causing an infection.” – L&D nurse to mother who wanted to check her own cervix.

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  52 Responses to “"…Your Vagina Is Dirty…"”

  1. Actually, the vagina is the cleanest “opening” in the body.
    And how can she lie and say her inserting her hand won’t cause an infection! That’s bull and she knows it!!

  2. So in addition to crystal balls, now med pros also have infection destroying hands? Wow, I wish I’d known that when my husband was massive amounts of heavy duty antibiotics for hospital acquired infections.

  3. Wow. Someone must have a time machine, because that sounds like the attitude physicians had way back in the late 1800′s. You know, when women died of “childbed fever” right and left which was CAUSED BY DOCTORS whose hands were clean purely on the virtue of belonging to doctors. Never mind that those doctors had just had their hands all up inside a diseased cadaver doing an autopsy.

    P.S. It’s MY VAGINA. I will touch it if I want to. Get. Out. Of. My. Room.

  4. Fear. Shame. Control. Grrrr.

  5. … a HAND infection? Because the way this was phrased…

    • I had the exact same thought…if the *vagina* is “dirty”, what is going to be infected in the course of this cervical check? I could understand “Your hand is dirty” as a valid concern here…followed by “let me get you a glove” so that mom can check her own cervix!

    • I’m thinking what the nurse is thinking, is that the vagina is dirty, so if the woman puts her hand into the dirty vagina the germs will travel to the (I guess, clean) cervix, and work their way into the uterus and infect the baby. But the nurse has been practicing with the “Operation” game (“Don’t touch the sides!”), so her hand can go right past the dirty vagina without spreading the germs to the cervix.

      • *slaps forehead*

        Yes, of course you’re right– thank you! Still a ridiculous comment, but at least it follows its own *internal* logic. (No pun intended!)

  6. Medicine. Ur doin it wrong.

  7. First of all, this comment makes no sense. If it’s dirty, how will your clean fingers not do the same harm that you claim my clean fingers will do?
    Second of all, it’s my body. I’ll do/touch what I want. Got it? And since it’s my body, you *wont* touch it unless you ask first. See? That’s how it goes.

  8. The “oh honey” part just rankles…

  9. Maybe the vagina is dirty because of it’s vacuum-like tendencies. :D

  10. I’m still trying to figure this out. We know a tenet of modern hospital obstetrics is the assumption that the mother is dirty and the baby is clean. That’s a given whenever the hospital is involved.

    But if the bacteria is already there in the vagina (I assume that’s what the nurse means by “dirty”) then putting a hand in there doesn’t introduce infection. It doesn’t matter what you put in there if the interior is already “dirty” because it’s not likely to get worse, right?

    Now if the nurse had said “your hand isn’t sterile” that would be a different quote, and we would laugh because her hands aren’t sterile either, but it wouldn’t be so bafflingly ignorant. (And I’m saying “ignorant” because the nurse seems to believe this, so it’s willful ignorance.)

    And the body should pretty much be able to control the bacteria that are within the body in its natural, healthy state. So unless this mother was immune compromised, or otherwise compromised, it shouldn’t be a problem that the bacteria in the vagina stay in the vagina. And if she WAS immune-comporomised to the extent that her own hands were lethal weapons, then the nurse shouldn’t be doing internal checks either.

    When I asked my midwife if I could do my own internals, she expressed concern that I might rupture my own membranes, and that I could understand.

    Either the nurse didn’t believe it herself but just wanted to make up a reason why a mom checking her own cervix was bad, or else she does believe it and she lives in a shiny orange place where down is up and hot dogs are good for you.

  11. It puzzles me that they don’t want you checking your own cervix, but they don’t tell you not to have sex. I can guarantee that my husband’s penis and hands are dirtier than my hands are when I check myself, but they never say don’t let your husband anywhere near there. And I have checked myself during my last 3 labors, I never asked permission, just did it in the bathroom.

    • They don’t have to tell you not to have sex, that’s a given, didn’t you know? Women have only been told from the beginning of time not to have sex for any reason but procreation or else they’re whores, and if you’re already pregnant you can’t get pregnant again (or at least not usually lol). Why would they have to tell you that? And why would your husband want to put his hands anywhere near your dirty vagina anyway? :p

      In all seriousness, though, during sex nothing is going INTO the cervix, but during a cervical check, something IS going into the cervix. That’s why infection is increased.

      • That made me lol, cuz my DH used to work with a guy who really believed that you were only supposed to have sex for procreation, no other time, and only in missionary position. They had, I think, 3 kids (and where done having kids) and she always got pg quickly. What a sad sex life!

        • A sad sex life but amazing self control. I couldn’t live with a person I love and find attractive and not have sex with them ever except to have a child. I have to wonder… usually those people who believe this are very religious… why would God give you a powerful sexual urge if you were supposed to do nothing with it most of your life? And wouldn’t He have made you (a man) able to distinguish when your wife was fertile so as to remove the guesswork of when to initiate sex to achieve pregnancy faster? It doesn’t really hold a whole lot of water lol.

          I also get confused by natural family planning and the Catholic church. Condoms are out, but it’s okay to time it so pregnancy can’t happen? How is that being more open to life than using conventional birth control? Whole different topic, though lol.

          • Maybe it wasn’t so much self-control as a masquerade. One of my friends had a husband who preached that and refused to have sex with her unless they were trying to conceive. They stopped after two and their youngest was a teenager when she discovered that her husband was gay and had always had boyfriends on the side.

          • Hmmm not in MY religion. The Bible says that we are not supposed to withold sex from our spouse unless it’s for a mutually agreed-upon span of time. I have read the whole thing a few times in my life and I can honestly say I never saw anything that prohibits a married couple from having sex just for the pleasure of it!!

          • For a long time, the Roman Catholic interpretation of the Bible was that sex was to be used to make babies only. My theory on that is because it’s not mentioned that Adam and Eve (and other people) had sex for other reasons, only that they had sex and conceived. But I’m not an expert lol. There are those who hold this belief. I agree that it’s silly, though.

          • That may have been how it was interpreted (and to some, it still is) but that never seemed to impede any of my Catholic family from sexual activity, married or not; they just went to confession afterward.

          • Condoms are out because it kills the sperm. Birth control is out because it kills the egg. NFP is in because both are allowed to life, but just not fertilised.

          • Both die anyway, though. And birth control actually preserves the life of the egg, because it is dormant until it is ovulated… when ovulation doesn’t occur it doesn’t die because it isn’t activated.

            I don’t understand your point I guess. Any way you slice it, if you don’t conceive, both the egg and the sperm die, and of the 300 million sperm in an average ejaculation, all but one of them will die even if you do conceive… and if you’re having sex at a time that you are not ovulating on purpose you are not preserving the life of the egg or the sperm any better than if you were using a condom.

          • Yep I know. Bizarre hey!

          • It’s too much to put into a combox, but if you’re interested, reply to this and I”ll get you some links with actual information. It’s not about sex being only for procreation. But I have kids to get off to school right now.

          • I’d love the links! Thanks!

      • Actually, mu OB TOLD us to have sex. Lots of sex. To try to get the baby to come out (I went to 42 weeks). She said, “And if the baby doesn’t come, at least it’s fun to try.” So, nope. My husband’s penis was okayed for entry. I never asked about my own hand, but I’ve tried and can’t find my cervix to save my life.

        • Same here! I’ve tried and tried and I can’t find that thing. I would have loved to be able to check my own dilation with my last labor at home, but no such luck. I guess it did it’s job; she came out!

          I wonder what this nurse thought she was going to do differently that would prevent an infection for this mother? After all, when women insert tampons or diaphragms, etc. I’m sure they don’t take a course on how to make their vagina/hand/applicator a sterile field beforehand… because there’s no need when it’s your own equipment going into, uh, your own equipment!

        • Actually, I have a serious question about this issue. Let’s say you test positive for GBS at 37 weeks, go on a week’s course of AB’s, and test clear after that. Why don’t they test the sexual partner too? I mean, he could be GBS+, we have sex at 39 weeks, and he re-infects me, right? Why isn’t this discussed in the whole GBS discussion? or am I not getting something about GBS infection?

          • It’s not an infection, first, it’s a colonization. But that’s still an interesting point. I was GBS+ when I was given the advice to DTD to help stimulate labor.

            But most OBs won’t let you treat the GBS before labor, so I don’t know. I actually did a hibiclens regimen for 4 weeks before my test with my second and I was GBS+. At that point, I gave up. I’m permanently colonized.

          • They treat GBS colonization DURING labor, not prior to it, because the bacteria is so fast to re-colonize. They can’t entirely rid you of the bacteria and it is very fast to re-establish itself. That’s why there is a course of IV antibiotics given every 4 hours during labor given to women who choose to go that route.

            Hope that helps answer your question!

          • The problem with GBS is that you can be positive one week, negative the next, and if you swab any woman long enough and thoroughly enough, you will get a positive. I did my midwifery prac in a small country town in central Australia, and the obstetrician on call my second week told me about this fact. He refused to give a woman antibiotics during labour regardless of their GBS status unless they were symptomatic, as he found the babies were more likely to develop thrush, and penicillin allergies later in life. He was an incredible man to learn from, and twice he let me catch the baby on my own :) (with mum’s permission of course)

  12. It’s a fact that vaginal exams increase the risk of infection, probably due to pushing vaginal flora up toward the cervix. But that is universal. Your hands do not push less bacteria than my own. Silly nurse.

    • In fact– though there’s probably not more than a miniscule difference (IF any)– one’s own hands are pretty logically a safer bet, no? Just in case there’s any “extra” bacteria/whatever on the hands (aside from in the vagina and nearby areas), those on the mom’s own hands are more likely to be familiar to her immune system than those on a stranger’s hands.

      I mean, it’s probably not a big difference if there’s any difference at all, but just sayin’… If the nurse is trying to imply one is worse than the other, the idea it would be a woman’s own hands (all things being equally washed and/or gloved, etc.) is pretty incompatible with medical science.

      I think this is aligned with the idea that hospitals are better places to give birth than homes because hospitals are “more sterile”– pardon me while I LMAO.

      • You’re totally right, I just didn’t feel like typing all that out lol. I mean, unless mom was just doing something totally not okay to put into her vagina. Picking up dead animals or scrubbing a toilet barehanded… those types of things lol.

  13. I wonder if this nurse is just grossed out by the idea of someone putting their fingers in themselves and the ‘dirty’ comment is directed at the mother in an ‘ewie, you don’t want to do that’. Then she realized what she said and made up the ridiculous infection thing. I know many women (especially 40+) who say the vagina is ‘dirty’ and shouldn’t be touched, but really they are just uncomfortable with their own genitals. I hope that made sense.

    • That’s the way it reads to me too. More like something grandma would say to a little girl in the bathtub. “Oh, honey, we don’t touch our hoohas. That’s dirty!” And then the nurse had to throw in some medical-sounding nonsense to back up her first nonsense comment. I agree with everyone else who said, “It’s MY vagina. I’ll touch it when I want!!” :D

  14. Glad that I never listened to anything like that. In my last pregnancy (#5) I checked myself about once a week starting in the 2nd trimester just because of a weird “feeling” I had. When I was about 30 weeks I noticed that my cervix had gotten extremely soft. I mentioned it to my (incredible) OB. She offered to check it out for me if I really wanted but that she trusted what I felt. She was really against doing unnecessary cervical exam. I had her double check and she agreed that it was extremely soft and asked me to go on bed rest because of the degree of softening. After that I had started slowly dilating, I sat at 4 cm for my last month of pregnancy and at 5 cm for the last 5 days or so. I ended up delivering well after my due date. If I hadn’t been checking myself then I would have never known and have no idea how it would have turned out.

    • Probably exactly the same way. Bed rest has no scientific evidence to back it, it just makes dr’s feel like they’re doing something and it give them a cya if the woman gives birth prematurely.

  15. I just noticed this!

    “Only I can can check your cervix without causing an infection.”

    Only YOU can check cervixes. Only you.

    I guess this nurse must travel from hospital to hospital, performing every cervix check that anyone ever needs, never sleeping, always checking. How selfless and noble of her.

  16. Does the OB have magical sterile hands?

  17. Um, excuse me, Nursey-poo, but if genitals are dirty, exactly how “clean” do you think the penis was that got this baby here in the first place?

  18. Um, yeah, wouldn’t my “dirty vagina” put YOU at risk of infection then? I need to sic my 8th-grade health teacher on this one. She was very fond of telling us to “think of the vagina as a self-cleaning oven.” ;-)

  19. what a stupid woman your vagina is self cleaning. unfortunately many no thousands of women have died from unclean instruments used by doctors in the past because they were not sterile. the vagina isn’t dirty but your hands might be that’s why you wash them

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