Gynecology

Your Annual Exam

Woman - Annual ExamAlthough no one likes to have an gyn or pelvic exam done, it's very important to your health now and in the future. The exam helps to make sure that your reproductive organs are healthy and helps your health care provider detect medical conditions (such as infections or abnormal Pap smears) that could become serious if not treated. During the exam your health care provider is feeling the size and shape of your external and internal reproductive organs, including the vulva (outside), vagina, uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes (inside).

Will It Hurt?

The pelvic examination will not hurt. Many women describe the experience as a sensation of crowding or fullness in the vagina; however, there should be no pain. Sometimes a woman will feel discomfort, especially if she is tense.

The reaction of many women to having fingers or a speculum placed in the vagina is to close the legs or squeeze the vaginal muscles. While it may be instinctive to clamp down, tensing the muscles often will make you more uncomfortable. The key to the pelvic exam is relaxation. Take slow, deep breaths and try to distract your mind to help you relax.

What Will It Feel Like?

You will feel touching with gloved fingers on the outside of your genitals. During the bimanual exam you will feel two fingers in the vagina and the other hand on the abdomen gently pressing the tissue between the two hands. At one point during the exam, the your doctor will insert an instrument called a speculum into the vagina. The speculum will generally be warmed to minimize discomfort. Your doctor will commonly complete the exam by doing a rectal examination, placing one finger in the rectum and one in the vagina. The reason for doing this is so your health care provider can feel much higher and deeper in the pelvis to make sure everything is normal.

The Pap Test

During your exam, you will also be given a Pap test which is a screening test that helps your doctor detect cellular changes your cervix (the opening to the womb at the end of the vagina).

View our Frequently Asked Questions about the Pap Test