A pelvic exam is a part of a woman’s health routine that should not be taken for granted. Often, women put off a pelvic exam as it may feel uncomfortable and weird. This is why the role of a women’s clinic in Singapore is vital in keeping women healthy and comfortable as much as possible.
At PK Women’s Clinic, we always make sure that our patients have the best care and feel comfortable at the same time, especially when dealing with intimate matters like gynaecological issues. In this article, we share what to expect during a pelvic exam and who needs to get it to help women understand the procedure better.
What to expect during a pelvic exam?
Typically, here’s what happens during a pelvic exam.
First, you will be asked to undress privately and put on a cloth examination gown or robe. When you are done, you will be asked to lie down on the examination table and spread your legs and anchor your feet on a footrest or stirrup. The pelvic exam usually has 4 parts:
- External/Visual Exam
The first thing that your doctor will examine is the external reproductive organs such as the vulva and vagina. The doctor looks for signs of infection, swelling, redness, abnormal discharge and other symptoms that may indicate STDs and cysts.
- Speculum Exam
For this part, your doctor carefully inserts an instrument called a speculum, which is made of plastic or metal, into your vagina. The speculum separates the vaginal walls as it opens. To help you be comfortable during insertion, we suggest that you keep your legs, abdomen and vaginal muscles relaxed. This step may feel uncomfortable, but shouldn’t hurt. If you feel pain or any discomfort, always tell your doctor so he/she can make necessary adjustments.
- Pap test
A Pap test is done to check for abnormal growths in cervical cells that can be potentially cancerous. Meaning, a pap test is used to diagnose cervical cancer. When your doctor suspects this condition, a sample of the cells lining your cervix (connects the vagina to the uterus) is gathered with the use of a spatula or swab. The samples will then be sent to the lab for analysis. At our clinic, a pap test can also be used to diagnose STD infections.
- Manual Exam
To inspect your inner reproductive organs, a manual exam is performed by your doctor. For the procedure, your doctor carefully puts in 1 or 2 gloved and lubricated fingers into the vagina while gently pressing your abdomen with the other hand. The manual exam determines abnormalities on your uterus and ovaries and even check for pregnancy. A rectal examination may also be performed where your doctor inserts their gloved and lubricated fingers into your rectum and vagina at the same time to examine tissues and abnormalities located between both organs.
Who needs a pelvic exam?
- Women starting 21 years old
Generally, we advise all women starting 21 years old to get a routine pelvic examination, unless there is a medical issue or a woman is already sexually active before this age and goes to seek birth control options. In this case, teenagers aren’t usually advised to get a pelvic exam even when they experience reproductive health issues like missed periods and heavy bleeding.
We first determine the cause and do everything necessary to alleviate the symptoms. Only when the symptoms persist and worsens, that’s the only time we recommend the procedure, otherwise pelvic exams aren’t performed until a woman is 21 years old.
- Women who experience problems with reproductive organs
During a pelvic exam, your reproductive organs like the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes are examined. This is why, when you are experiencing problems such as irregular periods, heavy bleeding that are longer than usual, pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic area, abnormal vaginal discharge or difficulty getting pregnant, then we highly advise that you get a pelvic exam.
These symptoms can be caused by various reproductive issues such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, ovarian cancer, infection and other gynaecological conditions. A pelvic exam lets your doctor pinpoint the exact cause of your symptoms and provide an accurate treatment plan to address the condition.
- Women who are sexually active and practice unprotected sex
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common, even in Singaporean women. STDs are contracted through unprotected sex with an infected partner. They can also be transmitted if you engage in sexual activities with multiple sexual partners. An STD can be in the form of viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection that can cause irritation, swelling, genital discharge and other abnormal reproductive symptoms.
When left unchecked, STDs can lead to serious health concerns and can even cause infertility if left untreated. A pelvic exam is one way to detect STDs and vaginal infections, so if you suspect that you have STD or have had unprotected sex with an infected partner, then you need to schedule a pelvic exam to have yourself checked.
- Women who are sexually active and seek birth control
A proper understanding of birth control is essential for your health. When you are sexually active and seek birth control options, you should consult with your gynaecologist first. Usually, before prescribing the appropriate birth control, a pelvic exam is first performed by your doctor to determine your over-all reproductive health.
How often should you get a pelvic exam?
While there aren’t really strict guidelines for how often a woman should get a pelvic exam, we recommend all women starting at the age of 21 to undergo the procedure once a year. At our clinic, we may need to advise more than one pelvic exam in a year for women with gynaecological problems to accurately monitor the condition and the effectiveness of treatments.
For your pelvic exam and women’s health needs, make an appointment at PK Women’s clinic at (65) 66369909 today. Our trusted and compassionate staff looks forward to helping you. We offer personalized care that focuses to make women live healthy and happy lives.
PK Women’s Specialist Clinic
2,Tai Thong Crescent, #01-12,
The Venue Shoppes., Singapore 347836
+65 6636 9909