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Pelvic Exams

women pelvic exam
Pelvic exams inspect your reproductive organs. During the examination, your doctor will look at your vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, vulva, ovaries, and uterus for abnormalities. The exam only takes a couple of minutes and is done in your doctor’s office. Gynecologic care is vital for ALL women, regardless of age. However, most women will receive their first pelvic exams when they turn 21 or earlier if they wish to start birth control. But do you really need a pelvic exam? How often should you receive an exam? Why are pelvic exams important? These are valid, common questions, and we’re here to give you the answers. Pelvic exams are necessary. Here’s everything you should know about these quick, effective in-office visits.

Why Are Pelvic Exams Performed?

You might have a pelvic exam as part of your routine checkup, or your doctor might recommend a pelvic exam if you have unusual symptoms.

Pelvic exams can:

Asses your gynecological health

Even if you don’t have symptoms, regular pelvic exams are essential to evaluate your overall reproductive and gynecological health. These exams may also find signs of ovarian cysts, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), uterine fibroids, or early-stage cancer.

Diagnose a medical condition

If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms like pelvic pain, irregular vaginal bleeding, new skin changes, excess vaginal discharge, or urinary issues, a pelvic exam can help your doctor diagnose and treat the cause of your symptoms.

When Do You Need a Pelvic Exam?

Most physicians recommend pelvic exams once a year starting at age 21. After that, you can book a yearly exam with your ob-gyn. Depending on your medical history, your doctor may recommend you have them more often.
Your doctor may also recommend a pelvic exam for more specific reasons, including the following:
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • A family history of cancer
  • Pelvic pain, or pain during sex
  • Concerns about gynecological problems like ovarian cysts or sexually transmitted diseases
  • During pregnancy
  • History of gynecological conditions, like cervical dysplasia
  • Before prescribing birth control

Why Are Routine Pelvic Exams Important?

Like a yearly physical at your primary care doctor, a once-a-year visit to your gynecologist is just as important. However, there are several advantages of a routine pelvic exam. Here’s why you shouldn’t skip your annual appointment.
  • These exams can give you a better understanding of your sexual and reproductive health.
  • Pelvic exams can catch life-threatening conditions, like cancer or infections.
  • Your doctor may detect potential health risks early and evaluate treatment options.
  • It’s a great time to ask your doctor any questions or concerns you have about your sexual and reproductive health.
  • They help diagnose conditions, including cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

What to Expect During a Pelvic Exam

You will undress and put on a gown. The doctor will have you lie on the exam table with your feet on stirrups. The complete exam includes a Visual Exam, Speculum Exam, Pap Smear, Manual Exam, and occasionally a Rectal Exam. The purpose is to check for anomalies in your internal reproductive and sexual organs. Your doctor will let you know of any immediate findings. However, Pap smear results usually take a few days. If there are any abnormalities, your doctor will discuss any next steps, recommend additional tests, or book a follow-up or treatment. Your pelvic exam is an opportunity to talk to your doctor about your sexual or reproductive health. If you have questions, please ask them during your visit. We suggest writing questions down before your appointment, so you don’t forget.

Women’s Health Services in Columbus

Most experts suggest women visit the ob-gyn once a year for a well-woman visit. Pelvic exams are often included in these routine appointments. This checkup aims to help you stay healthy and prevent health problems. Routine ob-gyn visits are an essential part of your health care. You’ll gain a better understanding of your body, and these visits are a chance for you and your doctor to chat about other important topics like sex, birth control options, family planning, and more.

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