Pelvic Exam

What to Expect During a Pelvic Exam

Pelvic exams play an important role in the maintenance of a woman's reproductive system, ensuring that the female pelvic organs are healthy and functioning properly. Conducted by a gynecologist, pelvic exams can help to identify cancers. Pelvic exams are generally accompanied by a pap test or pap smear, which is used to look for cervical cancer. Uterine cancer is also often identified through these gynecological exams.

Gynecologists often begin the exam by making certain the patient does not need to use the restroom. This is done to ensure the comfort of the patient during the exam. The entire process will last approximately 10 minutes. Although discomfort is not uncommon, it is not a painful process.

Examining the Pelvic Organs

Pelvic organs are tested to ensure that they are healthy and no abnormalities are present. These organs include the uterus and bladder. The doctor will press down on the stomach to feel the organs and examine for irregularities.

Speculum Exam

Using a speculum, a specialized medical instrument, the gynecologist will examine the external opening of the uterus. At this point, the epitelium will be swabbed. This is the process known as a pap smear. If testing for STIs or other infections needs to occur, it will also be taken care of at this time.

Bimanual Exam

The bimanual exam requires the doctor to use his fingers to enter the patient's vagina. This test is performed to check for cervical motion tenderness, in order to look for pelvic inflammatory disease. During this process, some women may experience discomfort related to the palpating of the ovaries.

Although a pelvic exam can be a bit uncomfortable for the patient, it is important to schedule regular exams with a healthcare professional. This will ensure that any cancers are caught before they have the chance to develop, while also ensuring optimum health of the reproductive organs. Many gynecologists require a full pelvic exam and pap smear before prescribing birth control pills. These tests are also necessary when experiencing issues such as increased vaginal discharge, and can help the doctor to narrow down the potential sources of such symptoms.