What really happens during a pelvic exam?
When all is said and done, a pelvic exam really isn’t a big deal. But if you’ve never had one before, it can be pretty intimidating, awkward and uncomfortable. Take a deep breath babe—here’s what to expect.
First off, you probably won’t need a pelvic exam unless you’re having big problems with your period, are sexually active or over the age of 18, though some girls, their parents or their docs opt for starting exams younger than that.
If you go to see a gynecologist, a nurse will first have you stand on a scale to measure your weight. She’ll probably want your height and blood pressure as well, and she might ask you a long list of questions, including what medications you’re taking, what your medical history is, if you’re sexually active and when your last period was.
Once she heads out, you’ll be asked to change into a gown (no undies) and wait for the doc. Your mom can stay with you, if you prefer, or she can wait outside. When the gynecologist comes in, she’ll probably take a look at your chart and ask you some questions based on your medical info, and a few background Qs, too, to set you at ease. A breast exam will likely follow.
The pelvic exam itself isn’t a biggie. The doc will ask you to lie back on the exam table with your bum near the edge, bend your knees and rest your feet on “stirrups,” or little platforms that extend from the table. Take deep breaths and do your best to relax—it’ll go faster and be more comfortable if you do.
There are a few different things your doctor will do. The first is an external exam, during which she’ll take a look at your vulva and the opening of your vagina. Then she’ll insert a speculum, a handheld tool made of either metal or plastic that holds open your vagina so she can take a look at your cervix. Most girls say this is merely uncomfortable, but if it hurts, tell your doctor.
When you’re older or sexually active, this is when she’ll likely do a pap smear. You’ll probably only feel a slight pinch, and it’ll be over.
Next, she’ll insert a finger or two into your vagina to make
sure everything feels normal. While she does this, she’ll press down lightly on
your abdomen. Her hands are gloved and lubricated, and a good doc will be quick but thorough, and really gentle.