I know that you don’t really want to see one, but if you’re sexually active or over 21 years of age, then a visit is highly recommended. If you need another incentive, know that pap smear testing has decreased the cervical cancer death rate by an estimated 75%. During your visit, your gynecologist will perform a pelvic exam with three parts to it:Speculum Exam
- Your gynecologist inserts a metal contraption called the speculum. During the exam, samples of the cervical cells (called the Pap smear) and the vaginal secretions are taken. Other samples may also be taken at this time if STD testing needs to be done.
- Bimanual Exam
Your gynecologist inserts his or her fingers into the vaginal area and palpates the lower abdominal area with the other hand, allowing them to evaluate your cervix, uterus, and adenexal regions.
- DRE/Digital Rectal Exam
Your gynecologist inserts his or her fingers into the vaginal area and the rectal area at the same time and palpates the lower abdominal area with the other hand, allowing them to evaluate the position of your uterus and the peritoneal cul-de-sac.
If you have any questions or concerns about your exam, ask your gynecologist. Most importantly, don’t worry about asking embarrassing questions. Be truthful about your conditions or symptoms and ask questions. Doctors have heard and seen it all and nothing will faze them. This is your health and early prevention/detection is key.