Pelvic Exam

Definition - What does Pelvic Exam mean?

A pelvic exam is a routine medical check of a woman’s sexual organs, including the vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Pelvic exams are an expected component of a general wellness check for women past the age of puberty. A pelvic exam may also be used to diagnose conditions or sexually transmitted infections, during a birth control evaluation, or to conduct a Pap test.

FertilitySmarts explains Pelvic Exam

Pelvic exams should begin taking place at the time a woman becomes sexually active or by age 21. They may occur sooner if medical or family history indicates health concerns may be present. Standard pelvic exams occur annually unless a physician instructs otherwise.

Most pelvic exam appointments begin with the gathering of the following information:
  • Medical history
  • Sexual history
  • Family history
  • Last menstrual period
  • Vaccination history
Additionally, a breast exam may be completed.

A pelvic exam begins with a woman undressing from the waist down, and positioning herself in an examination chair with her feet in stirrups. This placement provides the physician visual and physical access to the vagina. A physician may insert two fingers into the vagina to check for any abnormalities. A metal device called a speculum is inserted into the vagina, and allows the physician access to the cervix and uterus. While this should not be painful, it may be mildly uncomfortable. The physician may also complete a Pap test, which requires swiping the interior of the cervix with a swab, which collects cells for an analysis.

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