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Receive a Pelvic Exam at Southcoast Health

A pelvic exam is a physical exam of a woman’s reproductive organs. Your gynecologist or primary care doctor should perform a pelvic exam as part of your annual exam. It involves three main elements:

  • External examination of the genitals and perianal areas
  • Internal examination of the vagina and cervix using a speculum to keep the vagina open during the exam
  • Manual examination of the uterus and ovaries using two gloved fingers inside the vagina and the other hand pressing on your belly

A pelvic exam may also include a Pap smear and colorectal exam. If it’s time for your annual exam or you would like to schedule a pelvic exam in North Dartmouth, MA, find an OB/GYN or contact Southcoast Health.

Reasons for a Pelvic Exam

The main reason to have a pelvic exam is to assess the health of your reproductive organs as part of a regular health checkup. Current guidelines recommend starting regular pelvic exams in your early 20s. Your doctor may also recommend a pelvic exam if you have symptoms, such as:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Menstrual problems
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Urinary symptoms

Always let your doctor know about unusual or bothersome symptoms with your genitals and pelvic area, including urinary and bowel problems. This helps you and your doctor identify potential health issues that may require follow-up care.

How to Prepare for a Pelvic Exam in MA or RI

No special preparation is necessary for a pelvic exam. For a routine pelvic exam, it’s best to schedule it on a day when you don’t have your period. Your doctor may also recommend avoiding sex and vaginal products for a couple of days beforehand.

To improve your comfort, empty your bladder before the exam. Be sure to ask the nurse or your doctor before using the bathroom in case you need to provide a urine sample.

A pelvic exam is usually not painful. You may experience some mild discomfort during the exam and some spotting afterwards. You can return to your normal activities after a pelvic exam.

Southcoast Health offers patients across the South Coast of MA and RI women’s health services like pelvic exams.