The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman’s lower abdomen in which a fetusgrows during pregnancy. When a woman is not pregnant, her monthly menstrual period flows from the uterus.The lower part of the uterus (cervix) opens into the vagina. The opening to the cervix is narrow except during labor and birth, when it stretches and widens to allow the baby’s passage out of the uterus.
A pelvic examination is a complete physical exam of a woman’spelvic organs by a health professional. A pelvic exam helps a health professional evaluate the size and position of the vagina,cervix, uterus, and ovaries. It is an important part of preventive health care for all adult women. A pelvic exam is done to help detect certain cancers in their early stages, infections, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or other reproductive system problems.
What is a pelvic exam?
In a pelvic exam, the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and rectum are felt to find any abnormality in their shape or size. During a pelvic exam, an instrument called a speculum is used to widen the vagina so that the upper portion of the vagina and the cervix can be seen.
Why It Is Done?
A pelvic exam may be done:
• As part of a woman’s regular physical checkup. A Pap test may be done during the pelvic exam. For more information, see the medical test Pap Test.
• To detect vaginal infections, such as yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.
• To help detect sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia,herpes, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, or human papillomavirus (HPV).
• To help determine the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding.
• To evaluate pelvic organ abnormalities, such as uterine fibroids, ovarian , oruterine prolapse.
• To evaluate abdominal or pelvic pain.
• Before prescribing a method of birth control (contraception). Some methods of birth control, such as a diaphragm or intrauterine device, require a pelvic exam to make sure the device fits properly.
• Collect evidence in cases of suspected sexual assault.
How To Prepare
Before a pelvic exam:
• Try to schedule the exam when you are not having your period, since blood can interfere with the results of a Pap test. But if you have a new vaginal discharge or new or increasing pelvic pain, a pelvic exam may be done while you are having your period.
• Do not use douches, tampons, vaginal medications, or vaginal sprays or powders for at least 24 hours.
• Do not have sex for 24 hours prior to the exam if you have abnormal vaginal discharge. Semen in your vagina may interfere with your exam.
At the beginning of your visit, tell your health professional:
• If you are or might be pregnant.
• If you have any reproductive or urinary tract symptoms such as itching, redness, sores, swelling, or an unusual odor or increased vaginal discharge. If you have been performing regular vaginal self-exams, discuss any changes you have noticed with your health professional. For more information, see the medical testVaginal Self-Examination (VSE).
• If you are using a method of birth control.
• If this is your first pelvic exam.
• The first day of your last menstrual period and how long your period lasted.
• If you have had surgery or other procedures, such as radiation therapy, involving the vagina, cervix, or uterus.
If you have had problems with pelvic exams in the past or have experienced rape or sexual abuse, talk to your health professional about your concerns or fears before the exam.