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Pelvic Examination

How To Prepare continued...

If you have had problems with pelvic exams in the past or have experienced rape or sexual abuse, talk to your health professional about your concerns or fears before the exam.

No other special preparations are needed before having a pelvic exam. For your own comfort, you may want to empty your bladder before the exam.

Talk to your health professional about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

During a pelvic exam, you will:

  • Take off your clothes below the waist. You will have a paper or cloth covering around your waist. If you are having a yearly exam, you may need to undress completely so your health professional can also do a breast exam.
  • Lie on your back on an exam table with your feet raised and supported by stirrups. This allows the health professional to examine your vulva, urethra, vagina, and other reproductive organs camera.gif. You may want to wear socks to keep your feet warm while they are in the stirrups.
  • Have a drape across your body for privacy during the test. The health professional may use a lamp during the test, and you can ask for a mirror if you want to watch while the test is being done.

A female nurse or assistant may stay in the room with you during the exam. You may also request the presence of your partner or a friend.

External exam

During the external exam, the health professional will:

  • Check your vulva and the opening of your vagina for signs of redness, irritation, discharge, cysts, genital warts, and other abnormal conditions.
  • Check inside your vagina with his or her gloved fingers for any cysts or pus coming from the Bartholin glands.
  • Gently insert the speculum into your vagina camera.gif. The speculum spreads apart the vaginal walls, allowing the inside of the vagina and the cervix to be examined. The speculum may be plastic or metal and may be warmed with water or lubricated with a vaginal lubricant (such as K-Y Jelly).
  • Check the walls of your vagina and your cervix for damage, growths, inflammation, unusual discharge, or discoloration.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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