Your doctor has recommended a pelvic exam, and you may feel anxious or curious about the procedure. Don't worry – at Pelvic Floor Therapy, we've got you covered! In this article, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about the pelvic exam procedure, ensuring that you have a thorough understanding of its purposes and what to expect during the examination. The more you know about the process, the better prepared you will be and the more at ease you will feel.
Let's begin by discussing why pelvic exams are performed. Pelvic exams are vital diagnostic tools that allow healthcare providers to assess the health of your reproductive organs and identify potential issues such as infections, abnormal growths, or cysts. They are also performed as part of a standard wellness check for people with female reproductive organs – usually recommended once a year, beginning at the age of 21.
The pelvic exam typically includes three separate components:
1. External genital examination: The doctor will visually examine the vulva and surrounding area for any signs of abnormalities, such as sores, redness, or swelling.
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2. Speculum examination: A speculum, a metal or plastic instrument, is gently inserted into the vaginal opening to hold the walls apart, providing a clear view of the cervix and vagina. The healthcare provider may take a sample for a Pap smear during this step to screen for cervical cancer.
3. Bimanual examination: The doctor will insert one or two gloved, lubricated fingers into the vagina while simultaneously pressing on the abdomen with the other hand. This allows the doctor to feel the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes for any abnormalities in shape, size, or consistency.
The whole procedure usually lasts about 10 minutes and may cause minor discomfort. However, the exam should not be painful. If you experience pain during any part of the examination, inform your doctor immediately.
Pelvic Exam Procedure Example
Let's say you're 25 years old and you've never had a pelvic exam. After scheduling a routine wellness check with your gynecologist, they've mentioned that a pelvic exam will be conducted during the appointment. You may feel nervous, but there's no need to worry! To ease any anxiety, consider doing the following:
- Talk to your doctor: Open lines of communication are essential in healthcare. Ask your doctor any questions you have about the procedure or voice any concerns.
- Relaxation techniques: Practice deep breathing exercises or meditation to calm your nerves before the appointment.
- Bring a friend or family member: Having a trusted person accompany you can provide support and reassurance.
The pelvic exam procedure is an essential part of maintaining your reproductive health. By understanding each step of the examination and actively communicating with your healthcare provider, you can take charge of your wellness journey. We hope this guide has provided you with valuable information and has eased any concerns you may have had about the exam. Please feel free to share this article with friends or family who may also find it helpful, and explore other pelvic health guides on our Pelvic Floor Therapy blog.