When Karen Powell's year-old son Jeff recently had a school sports physical, the family doctor examined his genitals. And, no, he wasn't thrilled. From talking to his friends, the boy knew the doctor would touch him in his genital area. But Powell, who also has a year-old daughter, talked to her son about what to expect and why the exam was necessary. She also asked him if he wanted her to be with him during the exam. She thinks parents can do a lot to defuse what experts call a natural reluctance in adolescents about having a doctor see their private parts. It's just one of those things you have to do. To many experts, the key to preparing a child for the genital part of a physical exam that parents and doctors consider appropriate is understanding the emotions the child might feel.
Medical exams are usually pretty straightforward. Many parts of the exam make sense to most guys: The scale is used to weigh you, the stethoscope is used to listen to your heartbeat. For other parts of your body, the doctor's sense of touch and training are the key to knowing how things should feel. During the physical, the doctor will touch your belly to feel for any problems with your liver or spleen. The doc may also feel the lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, and groin to see if there is any swelling, which can indicate an infection or other problem. Two possible problems that can affect teen guys are hernias and — rarely — testicular cancer. A hernia is when a part of the intestine pushes out from the abdomen and into the groin or scrotum the sac of skin that the testicles hang in. Most hernias happen because of a weakness in the abdominal wall that the person was born with. If a piece of intestine becomes trapped in the scrotum, it can cut off the blood supply to the intestine and cause serious problems if the situation isn't quickly corrected. A doctor can feel for a hernia by using his or her fingers to examine the area around the groin and testicles.
Examining the sexual organs of children
The following practices are recommended for the genital examination of the paediatric patient. All remarks of a sexual connotation must be avoided during the interview and examination. Patients should not be touched on the genitals or breasts except as part of the physical examination. They should be advised before being touched. If the child is not at ease with a genital examination, force should never be used. The reason for the procedure should be clearly explained to the parents and the child. If the child refuses to cooperate, the examination should be postponed, if it is not urgently required. For infants and school-aged children, a parent or caregiver should remain close to the child throughout the physical examination. The child should be undressed as necessary and be allowed to dress as soon as the physical examination is completed.
A physical exam is an important part of staying healthy. The healthcare provider will examine the eyes, which may include checking vision, and ears, which may include hearing. He or she will check the nose, throat, neck, mouth, chest, abdomen, back, and legs and arms. The healthcare provider will assess growth and changes of puberty. He or she may also screen for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. The healthcare provider may also counsel your child about high-risk behaviors including safety, seat belt use, smoking, alcohol, drugs, and sexual activity. During the physical exam, the healthcare provider will examine the genitals, including the penis, testicles, and scrotum.