If you’ve never had a pelvic exam before, going into your first one can be very nerve-wracking. To ease your anxiety a couple of notches down, it’s best to be informed and know what to expect during the exam.
What is it?
A pelvic or gynecological exam is a procedure done to check the health condition of the organs in a woman’s pelvic region. Parts that are checked for illness include reproductive organs like the vulva, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, as well as the rectum and urinary bladder.
Who is it for?
Ideally, the pelvic exam should be part of your annual physical exam when you’ve reached 21 years of age. Pregnant women will also have to undergo this procedure as well as those experiencing symptoms like vaginal bleeding, abnormal vaginal discharge, menstrual cramps, and pain in the lower back, pelvic area, or in the vulva.
What should you do before the exam?
In preparation for your pelvic exam, you should refrain from having sex, vaginal douche, or from using tampon, vaginal cream, and birth control jelly. On top of these, expect questions about meds you’re using, allergies, menstrual and sexual history, as well as your general health.
How is it done?
The procedure is usually composed of three parts: an external exam, speculum exam, and a bi-manual exam. The first part consists of a check-up of the vaginal area. During the second part of the procedure, your doctor will insert a disposable speculum inside your vagina to check your vaginal canal and cervix. She will also do a Pap test, wherein a small broom-like tool is used to swap some tissues from your cervix. Lastly, the doctor will check your uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes by inserting gloved fingers into your vagina and gently pressing your lower abdomen.
Going for your first pelvic exam might be a daunting prospect. But there’s no better way of taking care of your reproductive health than by braving through your first time and committing to having it as part of your annual physical exam.