YOUR FIRST PELVIC EXAM
Excerpt from "GUIDE TO GETTING IT ON"
By Dr. Paul Joannides
For the exam itself, you will go into a room and trade your shirt and blue jeans for a paper gown--sometimes purple, sometimes blue, whatever is the latest in disposable gyno fashion. Usually a nurse and doctor will come in for the exam. They will ask you to lay down on an examination table. You will put your heels in metal stirrups and scoot your bum all the way to the end of the table. They will then shine a light on your genitals. The doctor will put a speculum in your vagina to help expand it and insert a little stick-like device to scrape some cells from the walls of your vagina. This won't hurt at all, but you still might feel something. The cells will be put on a slide and sent to the lab for testing. Then they remove the speculum, and the doctor will insert one or two fingers inside your vagina to feel your cervix, ovaries and whatever else Mother Nature put up there. She will also feel the outside of your abdomen with her other hand. Most doctors will examine the lips of your vulva and some doctors will do a brief rectal exam. The doctor or nurse will also do a breast exam. Also, it's best to abstain from intercourse the night before, but if you must, use a condom.
Here is advice for you from our women readers:
"I remember how scared I was before my first exam. The best thing to do is to tell the doctor that you are anxious and ask him or her to explain what is going to happen before the exam begins. A good doctor will explain things in as much detail as it takes to help calm your nerves. The worst part for me was the feeling of embarrassment that someone was looking at me. A pelvic exam should not hurt, and if it does for some reason you should tell the doctor immediately so that he or she can stop. As far as tampons are concerned, I have the same problem, and you might want to check out the tampons that are marketed as "slim fit" or even the ones that don't use an applicator. I find that these work best for me. Also try to relax. The more nervous you are the tighter your pelvic muscles will be." female age 22
"It's not that bad, and no MD has EVER put his or her whole hand in me for a regular exam. Your friends are probably being overly dramatic." female age 18
"He doesn't put his whole hand in there, darlin, it just seems like you are very full because of the speculum. It is pressing you open from top and bottom and it is what you mostly feel. Also not all girls are a straight shot in. I had some discomfort on a regular basis until a male doctor pointed out that my cervix was tilted to the right-hand-side of my body. I now know to tell the doctor about this before going in so I don't get banged in the wrong direction. Unless the doctor is using one of the new disposable speculums, they do come in different sizes as well. I am very petite and know that a smaller size will be more comfortable. Some of this comes from experience, but it is your part to speak out on these issues with your doctor." female age 33
"I am a very small woman. My first pap was done with the instruments they use to test small children for molestation, if that tells you anything. I have since had many pelvic exams, all of which have been done with standard equipment. Breathe deeply, and try to think of other things, and let the doctor do her job. And don't let them give you an exam while you're on your period. It's uncomfortable for you, take my word for it." female age 22
Last but not least, for a report on getting a pelvic exam from half way around the world (count your lucky stars, girls in America!):
"Each examination room is shared by two doctors. So when I entered, there was another patient splayed out on the table, having a pelvic exam, right next to the door. She appeared to be accompanied by half a dozen people, both males and females; the preceding patient and her entourage were also there, in addition to my coworker and myself, and the two doctors. The door to the lobby was wide open. The first question the doctor asked me was translated as, 'Do you have the sexy life?' (As in, 'Are you sexually active?') Naturally, all eyes turned to me-foreigners are something of a novelty here-and of course, I'd just started dating a guy after six months of celibacy, so I said yes. After several more questions, I was led to a table in the corner of the room and instructed to disrobe. No paper gown, no curtain, no closed door. So, my legs spread for what felt like the world to see, up the speculum went." female age 24