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Gynecological Examination (PELVIC EXAM):

Who should have the exam?

Every woman who is having sex (sexual intercourse) and every woman who is taking birth control pills should have an internal exam at least once a year.

What is it?

The doctor checks your sexual parts and the reproductive organs inside your body.

Why should you have a pelvic exam?

  • Cancer of the cervix is a common cancer among women. The cervix is the opening to the womb. A pelvic exam is the only way a doctor can test the cervix for cancer.
  • The tests shows if there are signs of cancer elsewhere as well.
  • You should have a pelvic exam because cancer of the cervix can be treated and cured when it is found early.

When should the exam be done?

Once a year.

Reasons to have a pelvic exams more often:

  • Bleeding between periods or very heavy period.
  • Bleeding after menopause.
  • Itching or burning around the sexual parts - discharge from the vagina that smells different.
  • Pain or bleeding during intercourse.
  • Anything that is different - like pimples, warts or blisters on your vulva ("private parts").

How is the exam done?

  • The doctor or counsellor will ask you for information about your health and menstruation, pregnancies and sexual practices.
  • Blood and Urine will be tested.
  • You may feel embarrassed or shy during this next part of the exam: you will be asked to take off your clothes and lie down on the exam table. You can ask to have your partner, a friend or a nurse stay in the room if it makes you feel more comfortable.
  • The doctor uses an instrument called a speculum to open your vagina and see your cervix.
  • The Doctor will take a sample of the cells rubbed off the cervix (see Pap Smear below). The doctor will then check the area for infections.
  • The doctor then feels the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus (womb) by feeling your abdomen.


What is it?

The test is named after George Papanicolaou. A sample of cells is simply rubbed off the cervix and examined under a microscope to detect abnormal cells (dysplasia) and cervical cancer.

What happens?

A plastic speculum is gently inserted into the vagina, and opened slightly so a wooden probe can be inserted. Taking the sample actually takes about 10 seconds, and the speculum will be in for about a minute. Your time in the examination room should be about 15 minutes.

Does it hurt?

It may feel uncomfortable having the speculum inserted, but it should not hurt. If it does, YELL! Either your doctor is not doing it properly (s/he should be careful to pull down to open the vaginal opening, not push up against urethra, as that can hurt) or you may have a vaginal infection.


What is it?

It is routinely done when a sample is taken for a Pap smear. A giant Q-tip is inserted and a sample of secretions from the cervix is obtained. The physician should also check genital areas for sores, warts, lesions.        

What can they detect?

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, bacteria (trichomonas, gardnerella), yeast. HPV (human papilloma virus) needs to be tested at special labs. In order for this test to detect herpes, a swab of the sore is needed. Blood tests have to be done if you want to check for syphilis.