Pelvic Examination

A woman needs a routine pelvic check-up at least once a year. During this examination the gynecologist feels that all the goodies are in place and in shape. Part of the exam is done by pressing on the lower abdomen where she or he will be looking for anything out of the ordinary. Basically, with a healthy woman, the gynecologist won’t be able to feel anything unusual. What they will be able to find is swelling, sensitivity or hardness, which indicates infection, cysts, growths (eek!) or pregnancy (yay?)


A Speculum

The internal exam checks the same basic area, but gives the doctor a much better stance, since her or his hands are practically inside your abdomen. They must always wear a new disposable glove, which you can see them putting on in front of you. The internal exam involves inserting two fingers into the vagina and feeling inside. In a separate test, a metal (or plastic) instrument called a speculum (from the Latin ‘Let’s take a peak’) is inserted into the vagina. This opens the vaginal passage allowing the doctor to look inside and check the cervix. Speculums come in different sizes, so if it is extremely uncomfortable, you can suggest a smaller one. Some gynecologists are intelligent enough to know to warm these instruments to body temperature, which makes a world of difference. Your doctor may not have a warmer available, but if they are using cold metal objects, you should suggest it anyway, as a matter of education.

You may be asked to cough, while the doctor examines for signs of Prolapse, which becomes very common as the years go by. It means that the pelvic floor muscles are weakening and some or other internal organs are lapsing towards the vaginal opening. Signs of this may be incontinence. Prolapse may be also be brought on by difficult births.

The feeling around itself should not be painful, perhaps just slightly uncomfortable, unless there is sensitivity in some area, in which case it would be important to locate. Naturally, though, a lot of women tense up their muscles because of fear and awkwardness. This tensing forces the gynecologist to push harder in order to feel, so it will hurt more than it has to.

Practicing Kegel exercises is a good way to learn to control these muscles, which can help in reducing the tensing. Breathing deeply can also help relax the body. Another technique is to think about other clenched muscles and try to release them – toes, legs, stomach, shoulders and jaw. You may find that they are simpler to relax and by concentrating on these areas, your pelvic floor muscles area is less emphasized.

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