Pelvic Exams

A pelvic exam is a crucial component to a woman’s recommended yearly gynecological examination. The pelvic exam is typically combined with other tests and assessments in order to provide a complete picture of the individual’s current health.

Such additional components typically include:

  • A breast exam
  • A pap smear or pap test
  • Testing for STDs and STIs if so ordered by the patient

What Is Included In a Pelvic Exam?

During a pelvic exam, your specialist will be focused on assessing various structures of the pelvis to determine if there are any abnormalities present. In order to gain a clear view of the vagina, cervix, and other reproductive organs, your provider will ask you to lie back on an examination table with your legs positioned in stirrups.

The Speculum Exam

At this point, a speculum will be gently inserted into the vagina to separate the vaginal walls. Your doctor will then place their one or two gloved fingers inside while pressing on the outer abdomen.  A mild amount of discomfort is typical during this stage of the pelvic exam, but this portion should in no way be significantly painful for the patient.

While your doctor has the speculum in place, they may also take a swab of cervical cells to be tested for the presence of cervical cancer. This is called a pap smear, and is only recommended to be performed every few years, though patients may request that a pap smear be performed more frequently if they so desire.

Possible Rectal Exam

It is not uncommon for your physician to also perform a rectal exam in addition to a pelvic exam. This assessment helps to evaluate the muscles located between the vagina and anus. A rectovaginal exam is also useful in detecting possible tumors located behind the uterus. As with the speculum exam, you should expect some minor discomfort but no intense pain.

How Often Will I Need a Pelvic Exam?

Generally, most women are advised to complete a pelvic exam once per year during an annual physical with their gynecologist. Your doctor may also recommend an increase in the frequency of these evaluations of the pelvis depending upon you or your family’s medical history.

If you are due for a pelvic exam, or would like to schedule one in the near future, please contact Pendleton Family Medicine today at (541) 276-1700.