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How is a pelvic exam performed?
There is no special preparation needed for a pelvic exam. A pelvic exam is performed in the doctor's office and takes only a few minutes. The woman undergoing the exam lies on an examination table, covered with a sheet. The doctor and/or nurse will help the woman get in position for the speculum examination, which involves bending the knees and placing the feet in metal supports on the side of the exam table. The speculum is a metal or plastic device that is inserted into the vagina to allow the vaginal walls and cervix to be seen. A small sample of the cells of the cervix is taken by a brush or a small spatula for the Pap test. While there may be some discomfort, a pelvic exam should not be painful.
A bimanual exam is another component of the pelvic exam. This involves placement of two fingers inside the vaginal canal and pressing on the lower abdomen with the other hand to palpate (feel) the pelvic organs. A rectal exam is also often performed at this time. The bimanual exam may reveal enlarged organs or tissue masses.
Medically reviewed by Steven Nelson, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology
MedscapeReference.com. Pelvic Examination.