Research suggest that adult childhood sexual abuse survivors, may make use of health care services and incur greater health care costs as compared to adults who did not experience abuse (Leserman, 2005). Women Survivors of childhood sexual abuse may frequent health care facilities with a variety of physical ailments that they do not initially attribute to their experience of sexual abuse.
Women survivors of childhood sexual abuse present a wide array of physical symptoms such as lower pain thresholds, breathing problem like asthma. Some gynaecological problems that are commonly reported by survivors of sexual abuse include; chronic pelvic pain, dyspareunia, vaginismus, nonspecific vaginitis and gastrointestinal disorders. They may seek little or no prenatal care.
The Committee on health care for underserved women argues that, it is quiet challenging for both the physician and patient to identify the underlying cause of physical symptoms that survivors of sexual abuse manifest. It is therefore necessary that, obstetrician–gynecologist should have the knowledge to screen for childhood sexual abuse, diagnose disorders that are a result of abuse, because it is not easy for survivors to volunteer this information due to shame and stigma. Good screening will also provide support in the choice of interventions for survivors by giving them empowering messages, counseling referrals, and emphatic care during sensitive examinations.
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Leserman, J. (2005). Sexual abuse history: prevalence, health effects, mediators, and psychological treatment. Psychosomatic Med, 67:906-15.