What are the steps in a pelvic exam?
The health worker will look at your outer genitals for look inside your any swelling, bumps, sores, or changes in color.
Usually, the health worker will put a speculum into your vagina. A speculum is a small metal or plastic tool that holds the inside of the vagina open. He or she can then examine the walls of the vagina and the cervix for swelling, bumps, sores, or discharge. You may feel slight pressure or discomfort with the speculum inside, but it should not hurt. The exam is more comfortable if your muscles are relaxed and your bladder is empty.
If the clinic has laboratory services, the health worker will do tests for STIs, if necessary. The health worker may also do a test to look for early changes on the opening of the womb (cervix) that could become cancer. This could be a Pap test, visual inspection of the cervix, or a new test to look for HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer. These tests are not painful and are done with the speculum in place. If cancer is found and treated early, it can almost always be cured.
After the health worker removes the speculum, she will put on a clean plastic glove and put two fingers of one hand into your vagina. She will press her other hand on your lower belly. In this way she can feel the size, shape, and location of your womb, tubes, andovaries. This part of the exam should not be painful. If it is, tell her. It may mean something is wrong.
For some problems, the health worker may need to do a rectal exam. One finger is put into your rectum and one finger into your vagina. This can give the health worker more information about possible problems of the vagina, and of the womb, tubes, and ovaries.