Center for Young Women's Health

Your First Pelvic Exam

 

Remember

  • Pelvic exams are done to find out if you have a gynecological problem.
  • You may need to have a pelvic exam if you have vaginal discharge, pain, irregular periods, or other symptoms.
  • A pelvic exam doesn't affect your virginity.

You may be worried about your first pelvic exam. It's very normal to be uneasy about something when you don't know what to expect. It is also normal to feel embarrassed. Hopefully after reading this information, you will be reassured that it's simple, not painful, and takes only about 5 minutes. Your health care provider understands how you feel and will be sensitive and gentle, help you relax, and answer any questions you have.

 

What is a pelvic or gynecological exam?

A pelvic exam is a way for your health care provider to examine your female organs and check for any gynecological problems.

 

When should I have my first pelvic exam?

Most health care providers agree that you should have your first exam when you have symptom such as discharge or pain, or when you turn 21, whichever comes first. There are other important reasons that you may need a pelvic exam.

 

These may include:

Remember, it doesn’t matter how old you are or if you are sexually active, if you have any of the symptoms listed above, you should make an appointment with your health care provider or gynecologist.

 

Will I need a pelvic exam if I'm a virgin?

Even if you are a virgin (you've never had vaginal intercourse), you may need a pelvic exam if you are having any of these problems. Having a pelvic exam doesn't change anything, just as using tampons doesn't change your hymen (the skin that partly covers the opening to your vagina).

 

What should I do before the exam?

What kinds of questions will my HCP ask me?

Your HCP will ask you questions about:

Getting Ready

What happens during the exam?

This is usually the part when some young women feel embarrassed. Your HCP should make you feel safe and at ease. It's important to tell him/her if you are scared, nervous, or uncomfortable.

 

There are 3 parts to a pelvic exam. Sometimes not all the parts are necessary. Ask your health care provider which part(s) will be done for your examination.

 

Inside the Female Reproductive System

Roll over the image for more details.

Inside the Female Reproductive System

Fallopian Tube: The fallopian tubes are located on either side of the uterus and between the ovaries. This is where the egg and sperm meet, and where an egg becomes fertilized before it moves to the uterus. Fallopian Tube: The fallopian tubes are located on either side of the uterus and between the ovaries. This is where the egg and sperm meet, and where an egg becomes fertilized before it moves to the uterus. Fallopian Tube: The fallopian tubes are located on either side of the uterus and between the ovaries. This is where the egg and sperm meet, and where an egg becomes fertilized before it moves to the uterus. Fallopian Tube: The fallopian tubes are located on either side of the uterus and between the ovaries. This is where the egg and sperm meet, and where an egg becomes fertilized before it moves to the uterus. Ovary: The ovaries (one on either side of the uterus) make the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovary: The ovaries (one on either side of the uterus) make the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovary: The ovaries (one on either side of the uterus) make the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovary: The ovaries (one on either side of the uterus) make the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Uterus: The uterus (also called a "womb") sheds blood every month (a period), and also holds a baby while it is developing inside its mother. Uterus: The uterus (also called a "womb") sheds blood every month (a period), and also holds a baby while it is developing inside its mother. Cervix: The cervix is the upper part of the vagina, which connects to the uterus (womb) in a female's body. Cervix: The cervix is the upper part of the vagina, which connects to the uterus (womb) in a female's body. Vagina: The vagina is a canal that connects the cervix to the outer part of a woman’s body (vaginal opening). This passage is able to stretch to allow a baby to pass through during childbirth. Vagina: The vagina is a canal that connects the cervix to the outer part of a woman’s body (vaginal opening). This passage is able to stretch to allow a baby to pass through during childbirth.

 

The External Exam (Part 1)

 

Your health care provider will first look at the area outside of your vagina (clitoris, labia, vaginal opening, and rectum).

 

Normal Hymen

The Speculum Exam (Part 2)

How a Pap Test Is Done

 

The Bimanual Exam (Part 3)

What happens after the exam is over?

When the exam is over, your HCP will tell you what he/she found, if your exam is normal, if you need to take any medications, how to get the results of the Pap and other tests, and when to make your next appointment.

 

By having a pelvic exam and Pap test and checking in with your health care provider when you have unexplained discharge and/or pain, you are taking care of your reproductive health.

 

Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital

 

Updated: 8/22/2013

 

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