Do you have a vagina?

Have you had it checked out by a professional?

If not, then the time has come for you to book an appointment with your family doctor or an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN): a doctor who specializes in female reproductive health!

The thought of a gynecological appointment may seem daunting at first, but you can combat pre-exam nerves if you know what to expect!

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Let's Chat

The first gynecological visit may be just a talk between you and your doctor!

Expect to answer questions about:

  • your menstrual period

  • the start date of your last period

  • your sexual activities (including vaginal, oral, or anal sex)

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Quiz

If you are concerned about confidentiality during your visit, you should:

Ask your doctor what info is shared

Share as little as possible

Lie about your sexual history

Avoid answering any questions

Next Up: A General Physical Exam

During your visit, a medical professional (not necessarily your doctor) will check and measure your:

  • Height

  • Weight

  • Blood pressure

You will also be examined for any health problems you may have.

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Also Included: A Breast Exam

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A breast exam may be performed during your appointment to detect lumps, cysts, or breast problems.

Although teenagers and young adults have a low breast-cancer risk, this is an opportunity for your doctor to show you how to examine your breasts and identify any changes.

Finally, The Pelvic Exam

A typical pelvic exam has three parts and will take around 3-5 minutes of your visit!

It will be done if you:

  • are 21 years of age or older

  • are sexually active

  • want STI testing

  • have health concerns (i.e. painful periods, abnormal bleeding)

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Pelvic Exam Part 1/3: External Genital Exam

You will be asked to put your feet in the footrests/stirrups and your doctor will look at the vulva (external genitalia). 

This is to make sure there are no sores, swelling, or any other problems.

This is a good opportunity to learn about your body and the names for each part - if you don’t know them already!

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Pelvic Exam Part 2/3: Speculum Exam

Using a lubricated speculum, your doctor will look at the vagina and cervix and check for anything unusual.

They will conduct a Pap test/smear to screen for cervical cancer, as well as test for STIs (if applicable).

For the Pap test, a sample of cells will be taken from your cervix using a tiny soft brush or spatula, and then they will be checked for abnormal changes.

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Pelvic Exam Part 3/3: Bimanual Exam

Your doctor will check your internal pelvic organs for any swelling or growths.

They will put one or two gloved, lubricated fingers into the vagina and up to the cervix.

Their other hand presses on the abdomen from the outside.

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Quiz

How can you manage nerves during the exam?

Ask for a nurse to hold your hand

Tell your doctor you're nervous

Breathe deeply and relax your muscles

All of these

Summary

Sexual and reproductive health visits are necessary and important for maintaining overall health, so book your first gynecological appointment today!

Some actions to consider beforehand:

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This Byte has been authored by

CS

Carol Starratt

Learning Experience Designer