Pelvic examination is a way of checking the pelvic organs of a woman. This process aids doctors and nurses to see the position and size of such organs, including the ovaries, cervix, uterus, and vagina.
The procedure is done only when the doctor says so. If you think you need to undergo such type of test, then it is best to discuss the matter with your doctor first.
Take note that the pelvic exam should only be done in order to meet the following conditions:
- To determine if you have vaginal infections, including bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections
- To accomplish the regular physical checkup of a woman, which includes pap test
- To determine the possibility of acquiring sexually-transmitted infections like herpes, Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and HPV or human papillomavirus
- To determine the possible causes of abnormal bleeding of the uterine
- To find out if there are problems linked with ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, or uterine prolapsed
- To collect evidence when there are suspected cases of sexual assault
- To make sure that a birth control device would fit well, such as intrauterine or diaphragm device
- To determine the cause of pain
The Female Organs
- Vulva is the external genital organs of a woman, while the uterus refers to the womb.
- Cervix is the opening to the uterus through the vagina
- Ovaries are the organs that are able to produce eggs
- Fallopian tubes are ones that carry the eggs to the womb
- Bladder is the sac that will hold the urine
- Rectum is the chamber connecting the colon to the anus.
Things To Prepare Prior To The Pelvic Exam
You must take note that during the pelvic exam, you will also undergo a Pap test. In this case, it is advisable that you would have your exam when you are not within your menstrual period.
At the same time, you should not do the following within 48 hours before the examination schedule:
- Have sex
- Use tampons
- Use birth control cream, foam, or jelly
- Use medication or cream for your vagina
Expectations For The Pelvic Exam
The pelvic exam can be done within a few minutes only at the office of your doctor. The procedure is simple wherein you will undergo basic check-up to determine vital signs are working normally.
Part of the preparation includes the removal of your clothing and wearing of laboratory gown. For added privacy, you might be provided with a sheet to wrap your waist with it.
Performing The Pelvic Exam
The procedure would require you to lie on your back particularly on the exam table. Your knees should be bent and your feet to be placed on the table corners.
You will then be asked to slide toward the table end as you allow your knees to fall open. Here are some of the things you should expect when getting a pelvic exam.
- External visual inspection – your doctor should begin by checking your vulva for irritation, sores, redness, swelling or certain abnormalities.
- Internal visual inspection – the next thing is to use a speculum, which is a metal or plastic hinged instrument shaped like the bill of the duck. This is intended to spread your vaginal walls to view your vagina and cervix.
This process requires preheating the speculum or keeping it warm to make it more comfortable for the patient. If you would feel uncomfortable, just relax in order to ease the discomfort. But don’t hesitate to tell your doctor if it becomes painful.
- Pap test or Pap smear test – in the event when your doctor includes a pap test, he or she will use a tiny wand to be able to collect samples of your cells from the cervix before the speculum is removed.
The doctor or nurse will use a small wooden spatula or brush to be able to collect the samples, which would result in some minor bleeding or staining.
The collected cells will be used to test the patient for sexually transmitted infections.
- Physical examination – this part of the exam includes palpating your pelvis and abdomen from the outside, since your doctor won’t be able to see from the outside.
In this case, the doctor would insert a couple of gloved fingers into your vagina using one hand, while the other would press gently from the outside within the lower abdomen.
With this procedure, your physician will check the size of your ovaries and uterus, which denotes any tender areas or abnormal growths. Your doctor will also insert a gloved finger into your rectum to find out if there are growths, tenderness, or irregularities.
Remember that your doctor will remind you each time he or she does each step in order for you know what is happening.
Concerns About Pelvic Exam
Some women may have problems with pelvic exams. The common issues related to this discomfort are a prior use of tampons or being a victim of sexual abuse or rape. Thus, you need to talk to your doctor or nurse about certain fears you might have before the examination.
Likewise, you have to make sure that you have emptied your bladder prior to lying on the table. If it makes you comfortable, you can ask for a mirror to see the procedure while it is being done.
Moreover, you can have a female nurse or assistant to accompany you while you are under pelvic exam. Otherwise, you can always request for the presence of a friend or partner in such cases.
Points To Ponder About Pelvic Exam
A pelvic exam is not commonly required in order to get hormonal birth control prescription. Likewise, it is not always performed in order to check for sexually-transmitted diseases. This is because it is dependent on the symptoms that you have.
In addition, there are no risks being linked with pelvic exams. However, it would be more comfortable when you relax. One way to be relaxed is to breathe deeply and to talk to the doctor or nurse. Don’t hold your breath or put tension on your muscles to be able to relax.