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Pelvic Examination

How It Feels

A pelvic exam is more comfortable if you and the health professional are relaxed during the procedure. Breathing deeply and having a light conversation with your health professional may help you relax. Try not to hold your breath or tense your muscles.

You may feel some pressure or mild discomfort when the speculum camera.gif is inserted into your vagina. Try to relax your legs and hips as much as you can. You may experience pain or irritation, especially if you have a vaginal infection. If a metal speculum is used, the metal may feel cold and hard. The speculum may be warmed with water or lubricated with a vaginal lubricant, such as K-Y Jelly, before being inserted into the vagina.

During the bimanual part of the exam, you may feel an uncomfortable sensation of pressure or a slight twinge of pain as the health professional feels your ovaries. Breathing deeply may help you relax. You may feel a brief pinch when the Pap test is taken. Tell your health professional if any part of the exam is painful.

During the rectovaginal exam, you may feel as though you are about to have a bowel movement as the health professional withdraws a finger from your rectum. This is a normal sensation that lasts only a few seconds. You may have a small amount of vaginal discharge or bleeding after the exam.

Risks

There are no risks linked with a pelvic exam.

Results

A pelvic examination is a complete physical exam of a woman's pelvic organs by a health professional. A pelvic exam helps a health professional evaluate the size and position of the vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries.

Pelvic exam
Normal:

The uterus and ovaries are normal in size and location. The uterus can be moved slightly without causing pain.

The vulva, vagina, and cervix appear normal with no signs of infection, inflammation, or other abnormalities.

Glands around the opening of your vagina (Bartholin's glands) or urethra (Skene's glands) are not swollen or inflamed.

No masses (nodules) of abnormal tissue are felt in the area between the uterus and rectum (cul-de-sac) or in the strong bands of tissue (ligaments) that attach to the uterus to hold it in place. No fibroids are felt during the bimanual pelvic or rectal exams.

No pelvic pain or tenderness is present.

No hardening of tissue is felt.

Abnormal:

Sores, signs of infection, inflammation, or abnormalities of the vulva, vagina, or cervix are present. Signs of a sexually transmitted infection (such as genital herpes, genital warts, or syphilis) may be present. Additional testing will be required to determine the cause.

The glands around the vagina (Bartholin's glands) or urethra (Skene's glands) are swollen or inflamed.

The uterus cannot be moved (even slightly) during the exam.

Pain or tenderness is felt when the uterus is moved slightly or when the area between the uterus and rectum (cul-de-sac) is touched. The uterus is pushed away from the midline of the abdomen.

The ovaries are enlarged, not movable (fixed), or painful when touched.

An ovarian mass is present or a mass that was detected during a previous gynecologic exam is still present or has grown larger.

Small masses (nodules) of abnormal tissue are felt near the uterus or in the cul-de-sac. Uterine fibroids are felt during the bimanual pelvic or rectal exam.

Hardening of tissue (induration) is felt.

An area of ulceration or a tear is found.

A mass can be felt near one or both ovaries.

 

Many conditions can change the results of your pelvic exam. Your health professional will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.

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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