Woman denied hospital test because she was a virgin
A woman was denied a hospital test in Liverpool because she hadn’t had sex.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital refused to perform a transvaginal ultrasound, a type of internal examination, on a 19-year-old woman being assessed for endometriosis four years ago, according to a recent VICE World News investigation. The woman, who has concerns about her hormonal status, general health, and future fertility, was told they would “cross that bridge” when she had sex.
The hospital is among 32 trusts in England and Wales which don’t offer the test to people who are sexually inactive or “virgin”, freedom of information requests by VICE World News revealed. Nearly 200 trusts were contacted as part of the investigation and 57 responded to confirm they offered the scans.
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A transvaginal ultrasound allows doctors to look inside the body at organs like the ovaries or womb, according to the NHS website. This can assist in diagnosing conditions like endometriosis, which can cause debilitating pain and heavy bleeding in the one in ten women, and some trans women and non-binary people, it affects.
It takes an average of eight years to diagnose endometriosis, which can start when people are in their teens. Many people with the condition report struggling to get a diagnosis due to a lack of understanding about its symptoms and the limited range of diagnostic tests available.
A spokesperson for Stonewall told VICE World News: “Denying people healthcare because of their sexuality, sexual history or gender identity can have life-threatening consequences. Assumptions about sexual behaviour create barriers to accessing healthcare for many LGBTQ+ people and contribute to ongoing health outcome inequalities. It is vital that all NHS trusts ensure that anyone who requires a transvaginal ultrasound can access one.”
The British Medical Society (BMUS) updated its guidance in October last year, saying “the concept of virginity plays no part in the clinical decision making for transvaginal ultrasound”.
A spokesperson for Liverpool Women’s Hospital said patients who haven’t had sex will be able to have the examination later this year. They told the ECHO: “Liverpool Women’s has recently gone through the process of reviewing its standard operating procedures to remove no “previous sexual activity” as a contraindication for transvaginal scanning for procedures where a transvaginal scan would be clinically indicated as per BMUS guidelines.
“This work is in the process of being ratified with the intention of all revised standard operating procedures being in operation later this year.”
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