As the name suggests, it’s a physical examination of the female pelvic organs internally as well as externally. The pelvic areas which include the vulva, vagina, cervix, Fallopian tubes, ovary, uterus, bladder, and the rectum is inspected by doctors to rule out signs of illness, infections or any types of disorders.
What’s the Purpose of a Pelvic Exam?
A pelvic exam is a part of women’s regular health check-up. As we have said earlier, that your doctor will be looking for infections and disorders in and around your pelvic area, the following are the specific reasons behind the exam:
- A pelvic exam is done during pregnancy. It also helps detect an ectopic pregnancy
- To diagnose a wide range of sexually transmitted infections like:trichomoniasis, vaginosis, HPV, chlamydia, syphilis, yeast and bacterial infections.
- To investigate abnormal bleeding from the uterus, rectum and vagina
- Abnormal vaginal discharge is examined during the exam
- It’s a part of various physical exams, e.g. cervical cancer screening
- For any other types of pain like menstrual cramps, abdominal pain and disorders like ovarian cysts, infertility, fibroid tumors, genital warts, endometriosis
- To look for any suspicious masses or growths within the female reproductive organs
Different Procedures of Pelvic Exam
In this process, your doctor will be using a speculum which is a lubricated metal or plastic instrument capable of separating the walls of the vaginal opening. It will be inserted through your vagina to view your cervix. For further diagnosis of infections, your doctor will be taking sample cells from your cervix with a small brush or spatula for conducting Pap test (for cervical cancer screening). This test is also done to detect STIs wherein your doctor will use a cotton swab to take a sample of your cervical discharge for further diagnosis.
The Bimanual Exam:
The test is completely manual. Your doctor will be wearing gloves to insert his fingers into your vagina while compressing your abdomen mildly in order to detect the condition of your uterus, abnormality in Fallopian tubes, ovaries or to find out the underlying reason behind any kind of pain.
The Rectovaginal Exam:
The procedure is similar to the bimanual test, but in this case he inspects your rectum instead of a vagina. He inspects the muscles of your rectum, checks for tumors in the uterus, rectum or vagina.
The External Exam:
This is completely an external process wherein your doctor will analyze your vagina and the vulva for cysts, sexual infections, genital warts, skin lesions, and various other types of abnormalities. He also examines the anatomy of your pelvic region and palpation in the stomach area.
How to Prepare for Pelvic Exam?
1. A few things you should keep in mind before taking up the exam:
- If you are going for a checkupfor any purpose other than menstruation problems, then it’s better to fix an appointment when you are not having periods.
- Check with your doctor if you are restricted from having contraceptive pills, using douches or any other things that might hamper the test.
- Your doctor will ask you a series of questions related to medical history, general health and sexual activity. Be prepared for the answers.
2. Before conducting the test you will be asked to take off your clothes in private and wear a gown given by your doctor.
3. Secondly, your doctor will ask you to take the desired position according to the type of test being conducted on you. You may have to lie either on your back or on your stomach, bend your knees, spread your legs, etc. Do not make your body stiff.
4. You should refrain from feeling shy when your doctor asks you to make the accurate posture because that’s the only way to conduct the tests properly.
5. Your doctor may ask you to take rest for some time after the tests are over
Are there any risks involved in a Pelvic Exam?
No, absolutely not. However, you might feel a bit discomfort when your doctor inserts devices or conducts the tests manually. Especially, during the rectovaginal exam, you might feel an urge to pass on the bowel. However the tests last for just 2-3 minutes, so nothing to worry about. Pelvic exam procedures are painless.
We suggest you to relax your muscles and body and breathe normally while undergoing the tests and allow your doctor to diagnose smoothly. Your treatment will completely depend on the results of the tests conducted.
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: February 22, 2015