A pelvic exam helps a health professional evaluate the size and position of the vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries. It is an important part of preventive health care for all adult women.
Why do you need it?
- To detect vaginal infections, such as yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.
- To help detect sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, or human papillomavirus (HPV).
- To help determine the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding.
- To evaluate pelvic organ abnormalities, such as uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, or uterine prolapse.
- To evaluate abdominal or pelvic pain.
- Before prescribing a method of birth control (contraception). Some methods of birth control, such as a diaphragm or intrauterine device, require a pelvic exam to make sure the device fits properly.
Pap smear test
A Pap test is done to look for changes in the cells of the cervix camera. During a Pap test, a small sample of cells from the surface of the cervix is collected by your doctor. The sample is then spread on a slide (Pap smear) or mixed in a liquid fixative (liquid-based cytology) and sent to a lab for examination under a microscope. The cells are examined for abnormalities that may indicate abnormal cell changes, such as dysplasia or cervical cancer.
The recommended Pap test schedule is based on your age and on things that increase your risk. For most women, it is best to have a Pap test every 1 to 3 years. Talk to your doctor about when to have your first Pap test and how often to have this test.
A high-risk type of the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the cause of most cases of cervical cancer. In women older than 30, an HPV test may be done at the same time as a Pap test. If you are age 26 or younger, you can get the HPV shot to prevent infection with the types of HPV that are most likely to cause cervical cancer.
Transvaginal ultrasound is a type of pelvic ultrasound. It is used to look at a woman´s reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, cervix, and vagina.
Transvaginal ultrasound may be done to detect:
- Abnormal findings on a physical exam, such as cysts, fibroid tumors, or other growths
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding and menstrual problems
- Certain types of infertility
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic pain
Manual breast examination
It is performed by your doctor to detect early signs of breast cancer like lumps, changes in the size of the whole breast or the nipples, abnormal discharges, etc. Manual breast examinations should be carried out frequently.
It is advisable to get a regular mammography screening over 40.
Please note that mammography and breast ultrasound are not included in the exam.
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