why do you need a pelvic exam

A is a way for doctors to look for signs of illness in certain organs in a woman's body. The word "pelvic" refers to the pelvis. The exam is used to look at a woman's:
(opening from the Rectum (the chamber that connects the to the When Are Pelvic Exams Done? During a yearly When a woman is When a doctor is checking for an (such as, and others) Do I Need to Do Anything to Prepare for a Pelvic Exam? Because a is typically performed during a routine pelvic exam, you should schedule the exam when you are not having your period. In addition, for 48 hours prior to the exam, you should not: Have Use foam, cream, or jelly Use medicine or cream in your What Can I Expect During a Pelvic Exam? You can expect to feel a little discomfort, but you should not feel pain during a pelvic exam. The exam itself takes about 10 minutes. If you have any questions during the exam, be sure to ask your doctor. How Is a Pelvic Exam Performed? During a typical pelvic exam, your doctor or nurse will: Ask you to take off your clothes in private (You will be given a gown or other covering. ) Press down on areas of the lower Help you get in position for the speculum exam (You may be asked to slide down to the end of the table. ) Ask you to bend your Perform the speculum exam. During the exam, a device called a speculum will be inserted into the vagina. The speculum is opened to widen the vagina so that the vagina and cervix can be seen. Perform a. Your doctor will use a plastic spatula and small brush to take a sample of cells from the cervix (A sample of fluid also may be taken from the vagina to test for infection. ) Remove the speculum.

Perform a bimanual exam. Your doctor will place two fingers inside the vagina and uses the other hand to gently press down on the area he or she is feeling. Your doctor is noting if the organs have changed in size or shape. Sometimes a is performed. Your doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to detect any tumors or other abnormalities. Talk to you about the exam (You may be asked to return to get test results. ) , but we do it because were told its an important part of our. Pelvic exams, which can include inspecting a womans outer genitalia, looking inside the vagina with the help of a speculum, or feeling the and ovaries with an internal exam, are important for identifying several potentially harmful conditions like infections, benign or cancerous tumors, skin conditions, and fertility issues, Jonathan Schaffir, M. D. , an ob-gyn at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. But a draft recommendation statement from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (a panel of experts on preventative and primary care) is now saying there isnt evidence that having annual, or even routine, pelvic exams is necessary for women. To reach this conclusion, the task force searched through medical literature published in the last 60 years and found just eight studies that looked at the importance and effectiveness of pelvic exams. Based on what they found, they say they cant make a recommendation for or against regular pelvic exams for women who arent , dont have pre-existing conditions, or have no symptoms.

The task force isnt saying doctors should stop doing pelvic exams, per se. Rather, theyre saying theyre not sure theyre necessary for many women. You can read the statement in full. (Worth noting: The new draft recommendation doesnt change the , which are recommended every three years for women who are 21 to 29 and every five years for women aged 30 to 65. ) But other organizations, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the ruling body for ob/gyns, has a different take. ACOG bases on age, but says its a good idea for women age 21 or older to receive a periodic pelvic exam. ACOGs Well-Woman Task Force also recommends women undergo annual external exams but says internal exams (where a speculum is used) for women who dont have specific complaints or symptoms should be based on an informed decision between the patient and her doctor. Sowhat are you supposed to do? Keep getting regular pelvic exams, Jason James, M. D. , medical director at Miami s , tells SELF. [The United States Preventive Services Task Force] is talking about truly asymptomatic women, but theres not a huge number of women who are truly asymptomatic, he says, pointing out that women rarely come to their regular well-woman visits with no complaints or symptoms. A lot of times, women will put off minor symptoms like unusual or discomfort until their annual exam, he says. James has another reason behind his recommendation: There may be no evidence to say theres a benefit [to regular pelvic exams], but that doesnt mean theres no benefit.

When we have something thats already part of our routine, it doesnt mean we should stop doing it altogether because theres no data. Schaffir agrees. It is still important for women who have any complaint (for example, , pain, vaginal discomfort, etc. ) to have exams to diagnose a problem, he says. And if you don t have any below-the-belt complaints? Experts say theres really no harm in getting a pelvic exam whether you have unusual symptoms or not (other than the fact that it s a little uncomfortable), but they do increase the risk that youll get a false positive, i. e. get flagged as having a condition you don t actually have. When you do an exam and you find something in an asymptomatic patient, it obligates you to follow that up, explains James. You may end up with biopsies that may not have been needed. While it makes sense that youd rather be safe than sorry, Schaffir says experts dont even know how often false positives actually happen. What is unclear from the evidence that the task force examined is how often this sort of thing happens relative to the number of times that a real problem is discovered, hence the uncertain balance of risks and benefits, he says. Bottom line: Talk to your doctor. If you both agree that you dont need a regular pelvic exam, youre likely OK to do without. Otherwise, it s probably a good idea to keep doing what you re doing. Related: Watch: Oblivious Guys Hilariously Explained What Happens At The Gynecologist

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