I wanted to share how happy I am with my Ob/Gyn, Dr. Mary Parker in Bedford. I needed a new doctor for my pelvic exam. Yes, it’s something we women don’t talk about a lot, but I’m not ashamed of it. More women need to be aware, especially young women! So I put together this summary of what to expect.
An important way to maintain the overall health of a woman’s body is to have regular checkups of the reproductive system. One of the best ways to ensure that a woman’s reproductive organs are operating as intended to have a routine pelvic examination. Many women are intimidated by the process of receiving an exam from an OBGYN, but doing so can ensure reproductive health and identify possible issues before they can become life-threatening illnesses. The best way to combat any apprehensiveness a woman may have is to gain an understanding of what to expect during a pelvic exam. This can help a patient understand what is involved in the process, and allow them to prepare for the appointment correctly.
The doctor will first want to conduct a general health screening. This will include gathering the patient’s height, weight, and blood pressure, and a discussion of any past health problems or current issues that may be the reason for the appointment. It is critical for the patient to be honest about any pelvic pain or other abnormalities, as this will provide the physician with the information they need to perform the most thorough examination possible. The doctor may also want information on the patient’s sexual activity, as some issues can stem from intercourse related trauma.
Once the initial health questions are addressed, the doctor will ask the patient to change into a disposable gown. After the patient has undressed the doctor will place the patient’s legs in stirrups and begin with an external examination of the vaginal area. They will be looking for any unusual sores or growths that could be an indicator of a possible infection. Women who remove hair from this region should refrain from doing so at least four days before the appointment, so no irritation will prevent the doctor from doing a thorough examination of the outer areas.
For the next phase of the examination, the doctor will insert a speculum into the vaginal cavity and use the device to expose the vaginal walls and cervix. While there is some discomfort associated with this part of the procedure, it should be pain-free. Patients should inform the doctor conducting the exam if they experience any extreme pain. The doctor will look for any tissue that is discolored or presents signs of lumps. Once the visual exam is complete, the doctor will manipulate the reproductive organs by applying pressure on the abdomen. This exposes the organs and allows the physician to check for any unusual growths that could indicate serious health problems.
Once the visual exam is complete, the doctor will then swab the interior of the vaginal walls to extract a cervical cell sample. This will later be sent off to a laboratory and tested for the presence of HPV and precursor cancer cells. Once the vaginal exam is complete, the doctor will remove the speculum and perform a brief anal exam to check for the presence of any tissue masses near the entrance of the anal cavity.
After the review is complete, the doctor will inform the patient of any obvious issues that may have been identified. It is important to ask questions during this phase of the appointment. Most physicians will also make recommendations on ways to engage in a healthy sexual lifestyle and techniques that the patient can utilize to keep their vaginal area clean and free from possible disease or other severe infections.
Women who are over the age of 21 should have regular vaginal examinations done a minimum of once per year until they reach the age of 39. Women older than this age range should seek an exam from an OBGYN every other year, or more frequently as issues arise. Don’t allow the process to be intimidating or embarrassing. An OBGYN will conduct the exam with respect and make the patient feel at ease. One doctor visit every year can prevent serious reproductive health issues and have a woman feeling her best.