The gynecologist performs a pelvic exam to evaluate the size and position of the vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries. It is an essential 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 infections, such as gonorrhea and trichomoniasis.
- 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.
- Some birth control methods, like diaphragm or intrauterine devices, require a pelvic exam to ensure the device fits properly. Before prescribing a birth control (contraception) device, it is necessary to have this examination.
Cervical cancer screening
Pap smear test
A Pap smear test checks for changes in the cells of the cervix. It can help the doctor find cancer, which can treated by high chance if detected early. The Pap test is also efficient in identifying sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhea.
For the examination, your doctor collects a small sample of cells from the surface of the cervix. It is then spread on a slide (Pap smear) or mixed in a liquid fixative (liquid-based cytology) and sent to a lab. The lab test can detect abnormal cell changes, such as dysplasia or cervical cancer, by a microscope.
For adult women, it is best to have a Pap test every 1-3 years. The recommended Pap schedule may vary depending on the age and other risk factors. Talk to your doctor about when to schedule your first Pap test and how often you should have this test.
Vaginal culture or HPV test
For vaginal culture the doctor takes a sample of cells from the cervix, vagina, and/or vulva (the outer lips) to check for signs of infection under a microscope. The sample is taken at the same time as the Pap test.
The HPV test is another way to check for cervical cancer. This test can detect Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which causes most cases of the disease. Early detection allow treatment before it leads to severe health issues.
The annual gynecological exam includes a vaginal culture or an HPV test at the doctor’s discretion. If you would like to have both done, then the HPV, the less expensive, will be additionally invoiced.*
The HPV vaccine is also available to people as young as 26, which can prevent infection by the viruses that cause cervical cancer.
By transvaginal ultrasound, the doctor examines the reproductive organs, including the uterus and ovaries.
Transvaginal ultrasound may 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
During your annual gynecological exam, the doctor performs a breast exam to look for signs of cancer, such as lumps or changes in size and shape. Your doctor can teach you how to do a breast self-examination since it should be performed more often than once a year.
We also recommend that women over 40 get mammography and breast ultrasound screenings. These tests can find signs of cancer at its earliest stages when treatment is likely the most effective.
The annual gynecological exam is included in our Premium and Elite Plans for adults.