In partnership with their doctors, women are responsible for staying up to date with their health. One way you can maintain women’s health is to get regular pelvic exams every year. Learn the value of pelvic exams in preventing gynecologic cancers, and what to expect from your procedure.
A pelvic exam can reveal things women should look out for with their gynecologic health, like uterine fibroids, irregular discharge, or other concerns. It’s one of the best ways for your doctor to examine your reproductive organs and check for any abnormalities that could lead to gynecologic cancers like cervical cancer. Women should start getting regular pelvic exams by the time they turn 21.
What Happens during a Pelvic Exam?
During your first pelvic exam, your health care provider will ask you many questions about your medical and sexual history. They will also take any questions you have about changes in your body. You can and should discuss any concerns about your menstrual cycle, sexual history, and vaginal symptoms like itchiness, dryness, or unusual discharge.
The pelvic exam will begin with an external exam. Your doctor will examine the outside of your vagina for any abnormalities in the clitoris, labia, vaginal opening, and anus.
Next, your doctor will perform a speculum exam, in which an instrument called a speculum will be inserted into the vagina, so the cervix and vagina can be seen by the doctor. This part of the exam is also known as the Pap smear. During this part, your doctor will use a plastic spatula to collect samples of cells from the cervix for further examination.
Last, comes the bimanual exam. Your doctor will place two fingers inside the vagina and press down on your stomach with the other hand to feel if any reproductive organs have changed in size or shape.
Does a pelvic exam hurt?
Pelvic exams can sometimes be uncomfortable or embarrassing for women. Often, women state they experience some discomfort during the pelvic exam, especially if it is their first pelvic exam. However, the exam should not be painful. After a couple visits, you should get used to the exam and be glad you did. Pelvic exams can help you stay on track of the things going on inside your body.
Learn More about Women’s Health
Here at Nevada Surgery and Cancer Care, we want to educate our patients on gynecologic cancers and women’s health. Visit our blog every week for articles worth reading on how to stay on top of your health this year!