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    Find out what other moms-to-be are asking. Join in the discussion with Henci Goer, whose expertise is determining what the research tells us best promotes safe, healthy birth. If you would like to contact Henci outside of the Ask Henci forum, send an email to Goersitemail@aol.com.

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    Jul 24
    2013

    Vaginal exams / infections

    Beth Koup

    Hi Henci,

    I am a lamaze childbirth educator in Southern CA.  Here is my question. I discuss that the number of vaginal exams preformed during a labor and delivery experience is limited (or should be!) because the act of doing the exam, although sterile, displaces the normal bacteria from its normal positioning, thereby increasing the chance for infection to develop. Perhaps I need to change that explanation to state that this is true only after the water has broken, but I thought I understood the chance of increased infection was true in either case, only more so after water has broken.

    I was asked why infection wouldn’t happen as a result of penis insertion during sexual intercourse and I answered that in a low risk no
    problem pregnancy there are not sexual restrictions but agreed that I needed to do further research as to why those two scenarios are different. If you can provide me a resource or additional info I would appreciate the learning opportunity.

    Henci Goer

    It is my understanding that there is no increased risk of infection with vaginal exams if membranes are intact. As for why vaginal intercourse differs from a digital cervical exam, as you can see in this drawing, the cervix isn't in line with the end of the vagina. During intercourse, the penis slides by it into the closed pouch at the top of the vagina. Furthermore, pregnant women produce more abundant mucous, which I would think would serve to wash bacteria back down and out. By contrast, with a cervical exam, the examiners fingers push into the cervical opening, depositing there any bacteria swept up onto the examiners gloved fingers as they were inserted.

     

    ~ Henci   

    Beth Koup
    Thanks for the clarification, it makes logical sense.



    Beth Koup



    From: Henci Goer [mailto:[login to unmask email]
    Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 8:10 PM
    To: [login to unmask email]
    Subject: [Pregnancy_Birth] - RE: Vaginal exams / infections



    It is my understanding that there is no increased risk of infection with
    vaginal exams if membranes are intact. As for why vaginal intercourse
    differs from a digital cervical exam, as you can see in this drawing
    <http://www.motherrisingbirth.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/pregnancy.gif>
    , the cervix isn't in line with the end of the vagina. During intercourse,
    the penis slides by it into the closed pouch at the top of the vagina.
    Furthermore, pregnant women produce more abundant mucous, which I would
    think would serve to wash bacteria back down and out. By contrast, with a
    cervical exam, the examiners fingers push into the cervical opening,
    depositing there any bacteria swept up onto the examiners gloved fingers as
    they were inserted.



    ~ Henci



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