How It Is Done
During a pelvic exam, you will:
- Take off your clothes below the waist. You will have a paper or cloth covering around your waist. If you are having a yearly exam, you may need to undress completely so your health professional can also do a breast exam.
- Lie on your back on an exam table with your feet raised and supported by stirrups. This allows the health professional to examine your Reference vulva Opens New Window, Reference urethra Opens New Window, vagina, and other reproductive organs. You may want to wear socks to keep your feet warm while they are in the stirrups.
- Have a drape across your body for privacy during the test. The health professional may use a lamp during the test, and you can ask for a mirror if you want to watch while the test is being done.
A female nurse or assistant may stay in the room with you during the exam. You may also request the presence of your partner or a friend.
During the external exam, the health professional will:
- Check your vulva and the opening of your vagina for signs of redness, irritation, discharge, Reference cysts Opens New Window, Reference genital warts Opens New Window, and other abnormal conditions.
- Check inside your vagina with his or her gloved fingers for any cysts or pus coming from the Reference Bartholin glands Opens New Window.
- Gently insert the Reference speculum into your vagina Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window. The speculum spreads apart the vaginal walls, allowing the inside of the vagina and the cervix to be examined. The speculum may be plastic or metal and may be warmed with water or lubricated with a vaginal lubricant (such as K-Y Jelly).
- Check the walls of your vagina and your cervix for damage, growths, inflammation, unusual discharge, or discoloration.
If you are due for a Pap test, your health professional will use a small brush or a wooden spatula to gently collect a sample of cervical cells. You may have some staining or bleeding after the sample is taken. A sample of the cervical mucus may also be obtained with a cotton swab and tested for sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
This exam is usually done as part of a pelvic exam. Your health professional will insert one or two gloved fingers of one hand into your vagina while placing the other hand on your lower abdomen. By pressing down on the abdomen and moving the fingers around inside your vagina, your health professional can locate and determine the size, shape, and consistency of the uterus and ovaries. Any unusual growths, tenderness, or pain can also be identified.
For this exam, your health professional will insert one finger into your Reference rectum Opens New Window and one into your vagina. This helps your health professional evaluate your ovaries and uterus ligaments. This exam is not always done as part of a pelvic exam.
The entire pelvic exam takes about 10 minutes. After the exam is finished, you will be given a washcloth or tissue to wipe your vaginal area to remove any discharge resulting from the exam, and you will then dress. Some test results may be available immediately, but results from the Pap test may take from several days to a couple of weeks.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference November 14, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology