There will be a consultation before the pelvic exam
During the vaginal exam, expect a consultation with the physician. He or she will take your history and vital signs, review your immunization records, and check for signs of STIs. Moreover, the doctor may even perform a back, breast, and abdominal exam.
The following routine may take place
After the consultation, the doctor will ask you to remove your clothes and wear a hospital gown. They’ll tell you to lie down on your back on the exam table, with your knees bent and your feet on the stirrups or the corners of the table. You’ll also have to slide your body to the edge of the exam table.
After that, the following may take place:
- External exam – Expect that the first part of the pelvic exam involves the doctor checking the outside of your vagina (vulva) for visible signs such as swelling, sores, and color changes.
- Speculum exam – Next, the doctor will insert a plastic or metal speculum to open your vaginal walls to inspect them for abnormal conditions. If your exam includes a Pap smear, the doctor will also take a small cervical tissue sample for laboratory testing before removing the speculum. It’s normal to feel slight discomfort in this part, but generally, it’s not painful.
- Bimanual exam – Afterward, the physician will insert 1 or 2 gloved fingers in the vagina while pressing your lower abdomen using their other hand. This is done to check for any tenderness or pain, enlarged reproductive organs (ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, etc) and assess your uterus’s size and shape.
- Rectovaginal exam – Finally, although it’s not always included, the doctor may also insert a gloved finger into your rectum to palpate your rectum, the area behind your uterus, and the lower wall of the vagina. Initially, you might feel an urge to poop, but don’t worry, you won’t.
Overall, you may feel a little uncomfortable—during the pelvic exam—but expect that it’ll be over in a few minutes.
After the vaginal and pelvic exam, expect that the doctor will discuss their findings with you. Don’t hesitate to ask any question you might be having.
Learn more about the Screening & Tests for Women here.