Introduction: Nurses who evaluate patients following sexual assault are often faced with the task of identifying genital injuries and providing legal testimony regarding the nature of the injuries. Following a 2000 Virginia State court decision, sexual assault nurse examiners have had to struggle to answer the questions, "Are the genital injuries consistent with the patient's history?" and "Are the genital injuries consistent with sexual assault?". Methods: A search of the relevant scientific literature was conducted. Sources were examined and reviewed to identify what is presently known about adult female genital injuries associated with either consensual or nonconsensual sexual intercourse. Results: Female genital injuries occur with both consensual and nonconsensual sexual contact. Although some studies suggest that differences in injury patterns, types, or locations may exist, the data do not unequivocally confirm these findings. Discussion: Currently, the presence or absence of genital injury should not be used to render an opinion regarding consent to sexual intercourse. Further research is necessary to determine if injury patterns can indeed distinguish consensual from nonconsensual sex.
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