My First Pelvic Exam

A pelvic exam is a regular part of a woman's health routine beginning when she's a teenager. A pelvic exam is usually conducted by an obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn), but can also be done by your primary doctor or even a nurse practitioner.

When?

Girls should have their first ob-gyn visit between the ages of 13 and 15, even if it's just to get to know your doctor and talk. Your doctor will likely ask you some basic questions about your family, your lifestyle and your health. Be truthful. Take this opportunity to ask your doctor any questions you may have about the changes your body is going through or what to expect. You should visit your ob-gyn for a pelvic exam once a year following your first visit.

Why?

Though you may be anxious or uneasy, pelvic exams are a very important step in taking care of your body. The pelvic exam, along with a general physical exam, is also vital to a woman's sexual and reproductive health. During your pelvic exam your doctor will check to see that you're developing normally and that you are free from disease.

What can I expect?

During your pelvic exam, your doctor will generally examine your pelvic area, including your vulva (your external sex organs) to look for any cysts, discharge, or other conditions. He or she will look at / feel your internal reproductive organs (cervix, ovaries and uterus). Finally, your doctor will perform a Pap test where a very small spatula is used to swab cells from your cervix. The cells are then tested for cervical cancer or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Click here to view a video about your anatomy.

In preparation for your exam you might want to write down any questions that you have for your doctor. Finally, just take a deep breath, they truly aren't that bad! For more info on your first pelvic exam click here.

 

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