Pelvic exam

During a pelvic exam, a doctor visually and manually assesses a woman's reproductive organs. You might have a pelvic exam as part of your regular checkup, or your doctor may recommend a pelvic exam if you have symptoms such as unusual vaginal discharge or pelvic pain.

A pelvic exam is a relatively short procedure, during which your doctor checks your vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, rectum and pelvis, including your ovaries, for masses, growths or other abnormalities. A Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer, may be performed during a pelvic exam.

Why it's done How you prepare What you can expect Results

You may need a pelvic exam:

  • To assess your gynecologic health. A pelvic exam often is part of a routine physical exam for women to find possible signs of a variety of disorders, such as ovarian cysts, sexually transmitted infections, uterine fibroids or early-stage cancer. Your doctor can recommend how frequently you need to be examined, but many women have a pelvic exam once a year.
  • To diagnose a medical condition. Your doctor may suggest a pelvic exam if you're experiencing gynecologic symptoms, such as pelvic pain, unusual vaginal bleeding, skin changes, abnormal vaginal discharge or urinary problems. A pelvic exam can help your doctor diagnose possible causes of these symptoms and determine if other diagnostic testing or treatment is needed.

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