Pelvic exam is an examination that is performed by your doctor or a nurse to make sure that your reproductive organs are healthy. During pelvic exam the following reproductive organs are usually observed: vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries and tubes.
Main reasons of the Pelvic Exam
- Medical staff check if your pelvic organs (vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries) are normal and healthy;
- They can detect infections (STIs) that can cause vaginal discharge, pelvic pain or infertility. If you have one of these infections, a regular pelvic exam can help make sure that it’s detected early, so you can get treatment before any serious damage is done.
- One of very important reasons for Pelvic Exam is “Pap” test that can detect early stages of some types of cancers. Spotting these early signs of cancer could even save your life.
“Pap test” and “Pap smear” are the same thing – it is a test that involves collecting cells from cervix and then looking at them through a microscope to make sure they are normal and healthy. It is sometimes called a “smear” because the cells from the cervix are “smeared” onto a microscope slide. Pelvic Exam is a little different – it refers to the entire exam of your reproductive organs, part of which is the collection of cells for the Pap test. Some people think that a Pap test is a screening test for all sexually transmitted diseases, this is not true.
But during Pelvic Exam doctor or nurse can take additional tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You also can request STI tests if you have any concerns and/or doubts. It is a right time to ask for HIV test also (if needed).
For “Pap smear” cells should be taken and/or “smeared” from the cervix and examined under the special microscope to detect diseases or other problems.
When usually Pelvic Exam should be performed?
If you are already 21 or older, if you are sexually active – it is a right time to start your First Pelvic Exam. Sometimes Pelvic Exam might also be necessary if you have unusual discharge or bleeding from your vagina, or unexplained pain in your pelvic area. Very often your pelvic exam can identify cause of your problems during period and/or during whole menstrual cycles or between.
It’s very important for women to have regular Pelvic Exams. After your first visit, ask your doctor or nurse when you should schedule your next visit. In general, you will be asked to schedule your next exam a year later. After you’ve had two or three yearly exams without any problems, your doctor could suggest that you can reduce the frequency of your Pelvic Exams (once every two or three years).
You should also speak to your doctor and/or nurse how often “Pap smear” should be done (depending on your sexual activities, number of partners and existence of sexually transmitted infections).
After your Pelvic Exam, your doctor will send your “Pap smear” (cells) to the laboratory where the specialist will look at these cells under a microscope to make sure that the cells look healthy and normal. Before you leave your exam, make sure to ask your doctor about how you can get your results and how long it should take. It may take a few weeks before the results are available.
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