Pelvic exams are conducted in women to gauge their reproductive health. In this examination, a detailed physical and visual checkup is done to ascertain the reproductive health of the women.
Organs that are examined include vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tube and the ovaries. Rectum and bladder are also checked during the exam. Some also include breast exam as well. This examination is either done as a routine checkup or done at the discretion of the doctor.
Pelvic exam is conducted by the top Gynecologist in Lahore. It is recommended after or at the age of 21, but women who are younger but are sexually active should also have their pelvic exam done, especially since it allows for STD panel exam as well.
Reasons for getting the exam
Pelvic exams are most of the time done as a part of annual physical checkup. It is a good practice to check after the reproductive health, even when women report no problem. As many diseases do not have symptoms in the initial stages, these exams allow for the timely intervention.
This exam is also performed in women who are trying to get pregnant or want to get pregnant. Similarly, pregnant women also undergo these exams, to check the progress of the fetus.
Moreover, pelvic exam is also conducted in patients with complaints of abdominal pain or even lower back ache. It helps locate signs of infection as well, if any. It is also done during the complaints of vaginal discharge or unusual bleeding as well.
Pelvic exam is also done for screening as well. Gynecological cancers like cervical, vaginal cancers can be diagnosed during these exams as well.
A detailed pelvic exam is also part of legal proceedings when in case of rape or assault.
What conditions can be diagnosed with this exam?
Pelvic exam is conducted not just as a routine procedure, but also as a diagnostic test. It helps in the diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis etc. It is also used to evaluate other vaginal infections like yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infections.
Moreover, other conditions diagnosed with this exam include ovarian cysts, PCOs, endometriosis, fibroid tumors, warts, ectopic pregnancy. Abnormal bleeding from uterus, or bleeding in the rectal region is also checked with the aid of pelvic exam.
What to expect during the exam?
Pelvic exams are nothing to be afraid of. They last for a few minutes, and while may cause discomfort, but are not painful per se. If the patient has urinary issues as well, they are required to deposit a urine sample, otherwise, they simply have to change and lay down on the examination table.
Doctor or nurse check on the abdominal region by pressing on the organs. Once with external exam is done, patients are asked to place their feet on the stirrups. Doctor then carries out the following procedure:
Doctor observes the vagina and vulva to look for signs of rashes, sored, redness, cysts or any condition that could be a cause for concern.
Speculum exam and pap smear
Speculum is a device that is used to expand the vaginal walls. For this, patients should relax their abdominal muscles. Whereas there can be some discomfort during this part, it still should not hurt. Tell your doctor if you are in pain, so that they can adjust the size of the instrument.
Doctor then collects the sample of cells from your cervix using a brush or small spatula. This is known as pap smear. These cells are analyzed to check for signs of cancer. To check for STDs, a cotton swab is used to collect the discharge to be later evaluated in the lab
In this part, the examiner puts one 2 fingers –with gloves of course-- inside of patient’s vagina. Since they are lubricated, patient should not feel any pain at this part. With the other hand, they press on the abdomen.
This exam helps in checking the shape of the uterus and gauge if there is any issue of enlarged ovaries, fallopian tubes etc. Cysts and tumors are also diagnosed this way. Moreover, this exam is also performed in response to any pain or tenderness in the region.
Pelvic exam also includes checking the muscles of the rectum and anus. This helps in establishing the presence of any tumors behind uterus, in the vagina or the rectum. In this exam, doctor puts a gloved finger in the rectum, and some doctors also simultaneously place a finger in the vagina, as it allows for a detailed tissue examination.
How often should you get the exam?
The frequency of the exam is contingent of the assessment of the doctor. People with health issues like family history, or self-history of certain cancers, history of concerning Pap tests, recurring vaginal infections etc. should get them done more frequently.
It is also important to visit a gynecologist in Islamabad rather than a GP, as OB-GYN are trained exclusively to deal with the gynecological issues, that may evade other doctors.