Pelvic examination is a simple procedure. It allows the doctor to examine vulva, vagina, uterus, rectum and pelvis including the ovaries for masses or growths. Sometimes a pap test is performed during pelvic examination.
The first pelvic examination should take place within three years of the onset of sexual activity or by the age of 21. It is advisable to get a pelvic examination done once a year.
No special preparation is required for pelvic examination, though the test may be advisable on a day when not having period.
During pelvic examination lie on your back with knees bent and feet placed on the corners of the table or in supports called stirrups. You will be asked to slide the body toward the end of the table and the knees fall apart.
The doctor visually inspects the external genitalia, looking for sores, swelling or any other abnormalities. The doctor inspects the vagina using a speculum. Speculum is a plastic or metal hinged instrument shaped like a duck’s bill, which spreads open your vaginal canal.
Inserting and opening the speculum can cause pressure or discomfort for some women. Relaxing as much as possible may ease discomfort, but tell your doctor if it's painful. If your pelvic exam includes a Pap test (Pap smear), your doctor collects the sample before removing the speculum.
After the speculum is removed, your doctor will examine your other pelvic organs for any signs of abnormalities. Because your pelvic organs, including your uterus and ovaries, can't be seen from outside your body, your doctor needs to feel (palpate) your abdomen for this portion of the exam. To do this, your doctor inserts two lubricated, gloved fingers into your vagina with one hand, while the other hand presses gently on the outside of your lower abdomen. This is to check the size and shape of your uterus and ovaries and identify any tenderness or unusual growths. Sometimes after the vaginal examination — especially if you're older than 40 — your doctor also inserts a gloved finger into your rectum to check for tenderness, growths or other irregularities.