In a pelvic examination, also known as a vaginal examination, a doctor places 1 – 2 fingers into your vagina to check your vagina, cervix, ovaries, uterus and pelvis for any abnormalities. Depending on your symptoms, they will also check on the strength of your pelvic floor muscles.
Your doctor may also perform a Pap smear or an HPV test during your pelvic exam to screen for cervical cancer.
Why do you need a pelvic exam?
A pelvic exam is useful for:
Assessing your gynaecological health. A pelvic exam allows your doctor to find possible signs of gynaecological issues such as ovarian cysts, sexually transmitted infections and uterine fibroids.
Diagnosing a medical condition. Your doctor may recommend a pelvic exam if you are experiencing unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding, pelvic pain, skin changes or urinary problems.
Who should not undergo a pelvic exam?
You should reschedule your pelvic exam if you are on your period.
What are the risks and complications of a pelvic exam?
In general, there are no risks to undergoing a pelvic exam. You can bring a family member or a friend with you as a chaperone or for moral support if you feel it would be helpful.
How do you prepare for a pelvic exam?
You should empty your bladder before heading into the doctor's room so that you will feel more comfortable during the pelvic exam.
If you are having your period, you may also want to change your appointment to another day.
Other than that, you do not need any special preparations for a pelvic exam.
What can you expect in a pelvic exam?
Throughout the pelvic exam, your doctor will verbally walk you through the steps so that you know what to expect.
Pelvic exams usually last only for a few minutes.
Before the procedure
You will be given privacy to remove your underclothes. A nurse will pass you a paper sheet to wrap around your waist for modesty. You will be asked to lie down on the examination table with your legs apart and knees bent and to let them know when you are ready.
During the procedure
A pelvic exam usually includes:
External visual exam. Your doctor will examine your vulva to check for irritation, redness, sores, swelling or other abnormalities.
Internal visual exam. Your doctor will gently insert a speculum, which is a plastic or metal instrument, to spread open your vaginal walls so that they can examine your vagina and cervix. The process may be slightly uncomfortable. Do try to relax as much as possible and let your doctor know if you experience any pain.
Pap smear. If you are having a Pap smear, your doctor will take a sample of your cervical cells using a small brush or spatula before removing the speculum.
Physical exam. To examine your uterus and ovaries which cannot be seen from outside your body, your doctor will gently insert 2 gloved fingers into your vagina, while pressing gently on the outside of your lower abdomen with their other hand. Your doctor will be looking out for the size and shape of your uterus and ovaries to locate any tender areas or unusual growths. You may also be asked to cough or squeeze so they can feel for a pelvic floor muscle contraction and any vaginal prolapse. After the vaginal exam, your doctor may insert 1 gloved finger into your rectum to check for tenderness, growth and other irregularities, if required.
After the procedure
You will be given privacy to get dressed again. Your doctor will share their findings with you and discuss treatment options, if necessary.
Why choose Gleneagles Hospital?
For over 50 years, Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore has diagnosed and managed a wide range of women’s health conditions, which are often detected through pelvic examinations. We deliver quality, customised healthcare that places your needs at the heart of all we do.
Our obstetricians and gynaecologists
At Gleneagles Hospital, our ObGyns are experienced and gentle in performing pelvic examinations. You can count on them to diagnose and manage a wide range of women’s health issues for your well-being and quality of life.