The Pelvic Exam
Parents, once your daughter has gone through or started puberty she will need a pelvic exam. Usually, girls will get their first exam towards the end of high school whether they are sexually active or not. If your daughter is nervous about her first pelvic exam, share this information with her before the appointment.
Why do I need a pelvic exam?
A pelvic exam is the best way for your doctor to examine your reproductive system. This visit is also a good time to talk to your doctor about any health issues, such as:
- Your growth and development
- Breast health
- Your period
- Any general concerns
What will happen during my pelvic exam?
Before your doctor does the exam they will ask you some questions to be sure you’re not experiencing any issues or problems. Some of the questions may include:
- When did you have your first period?
- Do you have your period regularly? How many weeks are there usually between your periods?
- How long does your period normally last?
- Do you have any discomfort (cramps, mood swings or headaches) while on your period?
- Do you use pads, tampons or both?
The purpose of these questions is just to be sure your periods are normal. It might be uncomfortable, but your doctor may also ask you about sex, and you need to be honest. Remember that anything you tell your doctor cannot be repeated to anyone else (unless it’s life threatening). The questions your doctor might ask could include:
- Have you ever had sex?
- When was your first time having sex?
- Do you use protection?
Once you answer all the questions, it’s time for your doctor to do the physical exam. It is usually broken up into three parts. If you’re nervous or feel uncomfortable, your mom, sister or friend can stay in the room with you.
- Breast Exam: For this part, your doctor will examine your breasts to check for any lumps, soreness or swelling. Your doctor will also show you how to do a self breast exam; you should do one monthly.
- Exterior Pelvic Exam: During this part your doctor will examine your pubic area with a light to be sure everything is normal.
- Interior Pelvic Exam: This is usually the most uncomfortable part of the process, but it doesn’t last long. Your doctor will use a speculum to help see inside your vagina. It shouldn't hurt, but try to take deep breaths during this part and be prepared for a feeling of pressure. Your doctor will do a pap smear to collect cells from your cervix and will then check your uterus and ovaries for tenderness.
If anything abnormal is found during your exam, your doctor may refer you to a specialist called a gynecologist.
When will I have to get another pelvic exam?
Your doctor can advise you on how frequently you’ll need to repeat the exam.