Going to the gynecologist isn't exactly fun, but it is a necessary component of a women's health care regime. But if you aren't having any issues, is it really that important? Here's a look at the important things that can be determined from women's pelvic examinations.
The Doctor Can See If There Are Any External Issues
Unless you are regularly examining yourself with a hand mirror, you won't be able to see if there is a potential problem with your external sex organs. The doctor will inspect your vulva, clitoris, vaginal opening, anus, and surrounding skin for anything you may not be aware of. For example, you may have a freckle or mole that shows signs of changing that you can't see or feel yourself or you may have developed a genital wart. Cysts are also common in the vaginal opening, which is where the glands that produce lubrication reside.
The Doctor Can See If There Are Any Internal Issues
Your gynecologist will use a speculum, a plastic or metal medical device, to open your vagina. This is normally folded down upon itself, and the speculum will allow the doctor to see the walls of your vagina as well as the cervix.
He or she will use a cotton swab to collect cervical discharge, which will then be sent to a lab to check for any sexually transmitted diseases as well as pre-cancerous cell change screenings, which are collected from the cervix with a small spatula-like tool. If you have an intrauterine device, the physician will also check to be sure it is in place as well.
Once they have inspected the vagina and cervix and taken any necessary samples, the speculum will be removed. Then, the physician will insert one or two gloved and lubricated fingers into your vagina and use their other hand to palpate your abdomen. Your gynecologist will feel for any signs of lumps, tumors, abdominal tenderness, pain, or enlarged ovaries. They also check the size and position of the uterus.
Lastly, a gloved and lubricated finger will be briefly inserted into your rectum. This is the least favorite part of the exam for most people, but it only takes a minute, and it is important as the doctor can feel any small growths that may be growing in an area they can't feel from the internal exam, such as in the wall that separates the vagina from the rectum. So, while you may not have any ongoing issues and may be thinking of canceling, it's best to keep your annual pelvic exam appointments since the doctor can tell so much about the state of your reproductive health. To schedule an appointment, contact an OB-GYN like Naples Ob-Gyn.