Understanding the pelvic exam

The word pelvic comes from noun “pelvis”. A pelvic exam is used by doctors to look for signs of infections in the organs of a woman’s body.

The test is used to examine the womb, external genital organs, fallopian tubes, cervix, ovaries, rectum and the bladder.

When should you go for a pelvic exam?

• During the annual physical exam
• When you are pregnant
• When experiencing pelvic pain or lower back pain
• When you need to be examined for vaginal infections

How do you prepare for a pelvic exam?

Just like most medical examinations, certain actions may result in inaccurate results. For optimal results, you should observe the following before scheduling an appointment with your gynaecologist.

• Ensure you are not having your period. This is because a Pap test is usually done in a routine pelvic exam and your periods may be affected.
• 24 hours before the exam, you should also refrain from using a tampon, having sex, using cream or medicine in your vagina or using birth control cream, jelly or foam.

How is the pelvic exam done?

During the test, an experienced gynaecologist will ask you to go to undress in a private area (a form of covering such as a gown will be provided).

The gynaecologist will then inquire about any health trepidations or complications. You will be required to lie on your back and relax.

The gynaecologist will then press down on lower stomach areas in order to feel your organs from the outside.
You will then be helped to get in position for a speculum exam – you may be asked to slide towards the end of the table. Then your knees will be bent as you place your feet in stirrups. During the exam, the speculum device is inserted into the vagina. Then the speculum is gradually opened so that the vagina is open and the cervix can be examined. A Pap smear test is then done, where samples from the cervix are taken for infection testing.

During the pelvic exam, bimanual and rectal exams may also be carried out.

You can expect to feel a little discomfort during the pelvic exam. However, consulting with an experienced gynaecologist such as Miss Tania Adib will ensure you feel comfortable throughout the process, and any queries you may have are adequately answered.