Updated: 2019, Aug 14

Pelvic Exam For Women: Why It’s Done?

Pelvic Exam

What Is A Pelvic Exam?

Pelvic examination (also called bimanual exam or manual uterine palpation) is a procedure to evaluate a woman’s reproductive organs such as the uterus, ovaries, uterus, cervix, vulva, and the fallopian tubes. Moreover, doctors can also assess the bladder, rectum and external genitalia of a woman for precise results. During this exam will the doctor visually and manually evaluate each organ for potential and possible abnormalities.

What Is A Pelvic Exam?

Why Do Women Need Pelvic Exam?

If you are having a pelvic pain or uncommon vaginal discharge, consider undergoing pelvic examination. This is to assure and maintain the functionality of female reproductive system. This may also be part of your regular check-up to ensure the health of your external and internal genital organs.

After doing the examination, your doctor or OB-GYN will determine if you are a candidate of possible medical disorders or infections. Such conditions are not always malignant, however it is strongly recommended for you to follow your doctor’s medication afterwards.

When Should Women Have Their First Pelvic Exam?

Unless you have a major medical condition, you may start undergoing the test when you turn 21. This is to check as to whether or not your pelvic organs are normal in terms of size, shape and positioning. Pregnant women are also advised to undergo pelvic examination. Afterwards, it is strongly recommended for you to consult your doctor annually to provide you a professional advice on maintaining reproductive health and minimize health risks.

Will It Hurt?

You may think pelvic exam is painful due to the medical tools utilized. But, no. You may feel a little pressure but you should not feel any pain. This slight discomfort is due to the insertion of speculum, but it doesn’t really hurt. If you ever do so, immediately tell it to your physician or supervising nurse.

Do Women Need To Do Anything To Prepare For A Pelvic Exam?

Menstrual flow can affect the precision of the results, so you may want to have your appointment a day or two before or after your menstruation. You should also consider not taking control pills, using tampons, or application of vaginal lubricants as they may hide certain medical conditions. It is also advised not to have sexual intercourse 48 hours before the test.

To fully understand the condition of your vaginal health, you can have a list of queries for your doctor to provide you expert knowledge about what is about to happen to your internal and/or external genitalia. Furthermore, consider wearing comfortable and easy clothes as you will be asked to take them off before the examination for a hassle-free assessment.

What Can Women Expect During A Pelvic Exam?

You are expected to feel a little discomfort, but the procedure as a whole shouldn’t be painful. The exam is about 10 minutes long. If you have any problems during the examination, make sure to tell it to your physician.

How Is A Pelvic Exam Performed?

How Is A Pelvic Exam Performed?
  • There will be consultations and counseling first for the physician to assure your current health condition.
  • If you are having problems with your menstruation before, or feeling like you are pregnant, make sure to let the doctor know to provide you pre-medical aid.
  • If no problems arise, you will be asked to lie down on an examination table with your feet relaxing on the table’s stirrups, and your legs open.
  • During the external examination, the doctor will check the external organs such as the clitoris, labia, vaginal opening, and rectum.
  • Afterwards, your physician will be inserting the speculum to keep the lining open. This is to vividly examine your vaginal canal and cervix.
  • The last part of the exam is when the doctor is assessing the innermost organs including fallopian tubes, uterus and womb. After these procedures are finished, the speculum can then be removed from your vaginal opening.

What Tests Are Taken During The Pelvic Exam?

  • Screening
  • Evaluation
  • Counseling
  • Physical examination such as obtaining the vital signs, BMI, and overall health. Tests will always depend on the patient’s age, current health condition, risk factors and the doctor’s preference.

What Happens After The Exam Is Over?

Patients can be diagnosed with variety of conditions which could be assessed as benign or malignant. Medical conditions are as follows:

  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Syphilis
  • Yeast infections
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Infertility
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Endometriosis

How Long Will It Take?

The time it takes to finish a complete pelvic examination lasts for about 10-15 minutes. It will depend on the physician if he or she has additional requirements to be assessed.

Pelvic Exam Vs Pap Smear: Are They The Same?

Pelvic Exam Vs Pap Smear

Pelvic exam is different from Pap smear, though many women would regard them both as similar. Pap smear is the scraping of cells from the lining of the uterus, called the endometrial cells. These cells are then utilized for laboratory examination for potential cause of cervical cancer.

However, assessment for possible ovarian cancer cells is not a scope of Pap smear anymore. This is when the pelvic exam is needed. The physician will be examining the internal genitalia, and will look for unusual lesions. These lesions can be a cause of skin cancer or vaginal diseases.

Final Verdict

All women, of ages 20 and above, should have pelvic examination whether or not they feel pelvic pain or unusual discomfort. If you feel something’s wrong with your reproductive organ, it is a must to immediately consult your most trusted doctor. But if you’re feeling normal and nothing is wrong, you may also consider taking this exam to ensure and maintain the health of your reproductive organs. And, always remember, prevention is way better than cure.


Peony C Echavez

Peony is a registered nurse and former Director of Nursing services for a large nursing facility. She has written web content for a lar

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