A pelvic examination is an important part of a woman's health care.
An annual pelvic exam should be performed in all females who are sexually active and in all women 21 years of age and older, unless your doctor recommends otherwise. Without regular exams, cancerous cells, infections, and reproductive problems may go unnoticed and untreated.
If this is your first visit to the gynecologist or if you are seeing a new doctor, you'll need to answer some questions about your medical history and lifestyle. It's important to answer all of the questions honestly and to talk to your doctor about your concerns.
In some cases, your doctor will ask for a urine sample to check for diabetes, an infection, or other illnesses. Whether or not you need a urinalysis, you'll be more comfortable if you empty your bladder before the pelvic exam.
Weight and Blood Pressure
Before performing your pelvic exam, your health-care provider will check your weight and blood pressure because they are important clues to your overall health.
After undressing, the woman lies flat on the examination table with knees bent and feet in stirrups.
Your doctor will feel your abdomen for hardness or lumps and for any sign of enlarged ovaries, uterus, bowel, or appendix. He or she will ask if you feel any tenderness during this exam, and it's important to note any discomfort you might feel, not just sharp pains.
External Pelvic Exam
Before the internal exam, your doctor will examine your external genital area, including your labia, clitoris, urethra, and perineum. He or she will look for inflammation, discoloration, discharge, and any other signs of infection.
Internal Pelvic Exam
Your doctor examines the interior of the vagina and cervix. To do this, he or she will insert a duck-bill shaped instrument called a speculum into your vagina and open it to hold the vaginal walls apart. Your doctor will then do a visual inspection of the vagina and the cervix.
Then, using a spatula and then a brush, your doctor will take two cell samples: one from the exterior of your cervix and one from inside the cervical canal. The Pap Test may cause some minor cramping but shouldn't be painful. After obtaining the Pap test, the doctor may perform tests for vaginal infections and/or sexually transmitted infections.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.