Sarah Silverman Says Her Male Doctor Used Bare Hands to Apply Gel to Her Breasts During an Ultrasound
She'll never be getting a breast exam from a man ever again.
Sarah Silverman isn't afraid to speak up for herself, and that's exactly what she did at a recent doctor's appointment that made her seriously uncomfortable. The 48-year-old comedian took to Instagram shortly after the experience to say she'll never be getting a mammogram from a male doctor ever again.
In a post on Wednesday, Silverman explained that she had to get a mammogram, x-ray, and ultrasound because she has dense breasts, which means she has more supportive (or dense) tissue than fatty tissue, and that makes cancer screening more difficult.
The radiologist did a few things that made Silverman uncomfortable, such as the way he prepped her for the ultrasound. "He opened my gown and put gel on my breasts and smeared it around with his bare hands," she wrote on Instagram, confused why he didn't wear latex gloves.
"Then he started talking to me about my chest X-ray (I also got a chest X-Ray) and was pontificating with my boobs just out and covered in gel and cold and finally I said 'Hey—can we either talk about this when I’m dressed or WHILE [you're] doing the ultrasound? I’m not comfortable with my breasts out just shooting the shit with you,'" Silverman wrote.
The third and final straw came while he was actually doing the ultrasound. "Okay so—he smears the gel on with his hands and NO GLOVES on and when he glides the ultrasound wand thing over my breasts he drags his fingers on them and it f—g bothers me."
Silverman continued that she had gone to the same doctor the previous year, and the situation was no different. "Again, AS I TOLD HIM LAST YEAR, I said 'Hey! Do you need to be touching me with your fingers?' He said 'No.' And he pulled them off of me. Then he added 'I do that for balance,'" she wrote.
In her post, she clarified that she didn't think he was intentionally violating her, "BUT it is his job to be aware that this is vulnerable for a woman," she wrote. She's right; part of a doctor's job is to make the patient comfortable. If you ever feel uneasy about what's happening during an appointment, you have every right to say something.
RELATED: How Often Do You Need a Mammogram?
Christine Greves, MD, an ob-gyn at the center for obstetrics and gynecology at Orlando Health in Florida, tells Health some doctors might not wear gloves during a breast exam if they need to be able to feel very small details in the tissue. Every doctor has a different preference, and gloves are only required when there's bodily fluid involved in a procedure.
However, the doctor should always respect what the patient is comfortable with. If you're in a situation that you're not sure about, Dr. Greves suggests saying something like, "I'm feeling uncomfortable. Can you explain to me what you're doing and why?" Hopefully the answer will clear things up, but if it doesn't, don't be afraid to cut the appointment short and ask the receptionist if you can see another doctor.
"That was my last mammogram with this dude. Or any dude," Silverman wrote. Having a doctor you feel comfortable with is crucial. Dr. Greves says the best way to find a doctor you can trust is usually by word of mouth. Ask your friends and family, and if you're new to town, ask your hairdresser or someone at work, she says.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter