Your first trip to the gynecologist can be daunting. It helps if you know what to expect.
At the start, the doctor or nurse will ask questions about your personal health history. When was your first period and if it’s regular? It’s important to tell your doctor if you’re sexually active or not. Remember everything you share is private. Someone will also check your weight and blood pressure.
Then you’ll head to an exam room where you need to remove all clothes including your bra and panties. You get a gown or sheet to cover up. You’ll sit on the examining table and put your feet in the stirrups. If your doctor is male, a female nurse probably will stay in the room during the exam. If a nurse doesn't stay, don't be embarrassed to ask for one.
First is the breast exam. Your doctor uses his or her fingers to feel around each breast and nipple, looking for unusual lumps or changes in tissue and skin.
Then comes the speculum exam. This allows the gynecologist to check inside your vagina for any abnormalities like cysts, erosions, irritations and others. The speculum, which looks and acts kind of like tongs, is inserted to slightly stretch your vagina. Now your doctor can see more clearly and be able to take samples from your cervix. That is the Pap smear. Using a tiny brush, the doctor scraps a few cells from your cervix. It isn’t painful but may cause some spotting afterwards. The Pap test detects changes in the cervix that could become cancerous.
Then the speculum is removed, the doctor performs a bimanual vaginal exam. He or she puts one or two lubricated fingers into your vagina while putting his or her other hand on your lower abdomen. By feeling around and pressing with both hands, the doctor can assess the size, shape, and position of your uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes and check for swelling or growths. You may feel slight discomfort or pressure, but it shouldn’t hurt. If it does, tell your doctor.
In some cases your doctor might perform a rectal exam, too. A finger is inserted into your rectum to feel the internal organs from a different angle.
And that’s the gynecological exam.