Are you scheduled for your first pelvic exam? Are you worried? It is completely common to be a bit anxious about an exam that you have never undergone before. You may even feel a little embarrassed. However, it is a simple, three- to five-minute exam that is not painful. Here is some information that will help you relax and be more informed as you head to the gynecologist for your first-ever pelvic exam.
What, Exactly, Is a Pelvic Exam?
The pelvic examination allows for your gynecologist to examine the female organs and look for any gynecologic health problems.
When Should You Undergo Your First Exam?
As a general rule, the first pelvic exam is received at 21 years of age. However, there are circumstances that require a woman to undergo a pelvic exam prior to age 21. For instance, if a teen is seeking birth control or there have been certain health issues, like unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding, extreme menstrual cramps, or concern of cysts or STDs, then a pelvic exam will likely be warranted.
Do You Need a Pelvic Exam When You're a Virgin?
Regardless of whether you are sexually active or not, a pelvic exam is necessary if you are 21 years old or if you are having certain vaginal issues. If you are worried that having a pelvic exam is going to change something, you can rest assured that it won't—just like utilizing tampons won't alter the hymen, which is the skin that partially covers the vagina opening.
How Should You Prepare for the Pelvic Exam?
Prior to your pelvic exam, there are a few things you can do to ensure you are ready. First off, make sure that the scheduler is aware that it is your first-ever pelvic exam. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them. The same is true when you arrive at the office and go back to the room. It is important that you do not use any vaginal creams, douche, or have sexual intercourse for 24 hours prior to the exam. Be prepared to remove your clothes, so you may want to wear something easy to take off.
What Occurs During the Pelvic Exam?
Before your gynecologist does anything, he or she will explain it all. In fact, he or she will likely go over everything at the beginning and then ask you to lie back on the table. You will need to move all the way to the end of the table, at which time you will place both of your feet in a pair of stirrups that will hold your feet in place.
With your feet in the stirrups and your knees bent, your legs will be spread apart, allowing the gynecologist to exam the vagina. First, your vagina will be examined externally. Next, an instrument will be inserted to spread your vagina open so that your gynecologist can check internally. He or she will use a small plastic spatula and a tiny brush to take a sample from the cervix, which will be tested for cancer. Last, the gynecologist will use two fingers and check your female organs.
For more information about women's pelvic exams, talk to a gynecologist, like those at Naples Ob-Gyn.