Gynecological Exams

Annual Women’s Wellness Exam

Regular gynecological exams are an important part of maintaining your overall health as a woman and taking responsibility for your sexuality and sexual health. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that women begin having annual routine pelvic exams shortly after sexual activity begins or if any abnormalities present (irregular periods, vaginal discharge, vaginal infection).  The first Pap test should happen after turning 21.

The Annual Women’s Wellness Exam will record your medical and gynecological history, as well as your blood pressure, weight, and vital signs. Your doctor will perform a clinical breast exam and check your cervix, ovaries, uterus, vagina and vulva for normal size, shape and position. You will also be checked for signs of STIs. Cancer, or other abnormalities.

How to prepare

  • Schedule your exam when you do not have your period.
  • It’s a good idea to write down any questions you have and bring them with you.
  • Know the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP) and at what age you had your first period.
  • Avoid douching, having sexual intercourse, or inserting anything into your vagina for 48 hours before the exam.
  • Empty your bladder before the exam (unless you are having problems with urination).
  • A pelvic exam is not generally painful, but it can feel uncomfortable or awkward, particularly if you are not familiar with the procedure. It will be more comfortable if you’re able to relax. If at any point you do experience pain, inform your provider.

What to Expect

Your provider will:

  • Take your medical and gynecological history
  • Take your blood pressure, weight and other vital signs
  • Examine your body, including your skin, and other systems to check for overall health
  • Check for signs of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), cancer or other abnormalities
  • Review your immunization record and order vaccines if needed
  • Discuss your potential sexual health needs, such as protection from STIs, and reproductive health needs such as birth control if needed
  • Perform a clinical breast exam
  • Perform a pelvic exam and if indicated, perform a pap smear