Most women are advised by doctors to get a pelvic exam once a year, according to Mayo Clinic. The two main reasons a woman needs to get a pelvic exam are: to assess gynecologic health and to diagnose a medical condition.
Many women get an annual pelvic exam as a routine exam in order to look for signs of disorders, such as a sexually transmitted disease, ovarian cysts, cancer and uterine fibroids, claims Mayo Clinic. Some doctors may suggest more frequent or fewer exams depending on the woman in question.
Pelvic exams may also be given if a woman is experiencing unusual symptoms, such as skin changes, unusual bleeding or discharge, pelvic pain or problems with urinary function. A pelvic exam can help a doctor diagnose the causes of these symptoms and help determine if the woman needs additional testing or treatment, suggests Mayo Clinic.
Pelvic exams usually only take a couple of minutes, states Mayo Clinic. The doctor usually examines the external areas of the woman, then looks inside for an internal exam. The doctor also performs a Pap test, which is a diagnostic test where cervical cells are examined for cancer. A doctor also usually performs a bimanual test where she feels around the pelvis from both internal and external points to ensure organs such as the ovaries are normal.