The patient was a young Vietnamese woman whom the nurse had asked me to assess for pelvic inflammatory disease, a sexually transmitted infection of the female reproductive organs.
"Are you sexually active?" I asked.
The interpreter relayed this to the patient, who firmly replied, "No."
"Have you ever been?"
Again, an emphatic denial.
I was taken aback, as I was certain the nurse must have had good reason to suspect PID. Deciding on a different tack, I asked, "Are you married?"
"Of course!" exclaimed the interpreter. "She has two children."
"Why did you say you don't have sex?" I asked.
There followed a quick discussion in Vietnamese, with the explanation: "When she has sex, it is not active. She moves very little."