When your doctor examines all of your pelvic organs, it's called a pelvic examination. Two good reasons to have this kind of examination are to check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to get a Pap test. A Pap test is also called a Pap smear. It checks for early changes that can lead to cancer of the cervix.
Sometimes a pelvic examination is part of a regular checkup. In this case, you can do some things to make your test results as accurate as possible.
Other times, women have this kind of examination at any time of the month. This is because they have pelvic pain, bleeding, or discharge. Or they may have another pelvic problem.
Before your examination, it's important to share some information with your doctor. For example, if you are a survivor of rape or sexual abuse, you can talk about any concerns you may have. Your doctor will also want to know if you are pregnant or use birth control. And he or she will want to hear about any problems, surgeries, or procedures you have had in your pelvic area. You will also need to tell your doctor when your last period was.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
This examination takes about 10 minutes. At the end, you will get a face cloth or tissue to clean your vaginal area. It's normal to have some discharge after this examination. You can then get dressed.
Some test results may be ready right away. But results from a culture or a Pap test may take several days or a few weeks.
There are no risks from a pelvic examination.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: October 13, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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