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What happens during a standard pelvic examination?

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Quick Answer

During a standard pelvic examination, a doctor or a nurse asks the patient to take off her clothes in private, lie on her back and relax, and then presses down on areas of the lower stomach in order to feel the organs from outside, explains WebMD. The health care professional asks the patient to bend her knees and place her feet in holders called stirrups and then performs the speculum exam, inserting a speculum into the vagina to open it.

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The doctor uses a plastic spatula and small brush to perform a pap smear by taking a sample of cells from the cervix or the vagina, explains WebMD. The doctor removes the speculum and places two fingers inside the vagina, using the other hand to press down on the area gently. This is called a bimanual exam and is performed to note if organs have changed in shape or size. A woman may feel a little discomfort during a pelvic exam but should not feel pain. The procedure takes about 10 minutes.

A pelvic exam is performed by a health care professional to look for signs of illness in specific organs in the body of a woman, explains WebMD. It is done to check the vulva, uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and rectum.

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