It’s time for you to visit your gynecologist. But what do you need to know about your pelvic exam vs Pap smear? 

If you are wondering about the difference between a pelvic exam vs pap smear, you should know that they are both routine parts of your regular annual gynecological exam.

Your well-woman visit includes a chance to discuss your health with your provider, plus routine screenings and a physical exam. Things like taking measurements of your weight, height, and blood pressure, a breast exam, a pelvic exam, and a Pap smear are regular parts of your annual care.

Actually, Pap smears won’t happen every time. They are generally recommended every 3 years for women ages 21 to 65, but you should have a comprehensive wellness exam annually. Read on to learn more about pelvic exams vs pap smears and what you should know about them.

Dr. Lona Sasser and Dr. Mary Squire-De Leon are highly skilled gynecologists in Coral Springs, Florida, who offer an array of services for patients of all ages. 

To make an appointment, you can easily book online or give us a call at (954) 340-1050.

What is a pelvic exam?

During a pelvic exam, your doctor examines your reproductive organs. This can be part of routine care or in response to symptoms. Generally, the pelvic exam only lasts a few minutes. Your care provider may examine your vulva, vagina, cervix, ovaries, uterus, rectum and pelvis. Sometimes a Pap test is done during the pelvic exam to screen for cervical cancer.

Routine Exams

The pelvic exam is an important way your doctor can assess your gynecological and reproductive health. A pelvic exam is performed routinely in order to look for possible signs of health issues like ovarian cysts, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), uterine fibroids, or even early-stage cancer. 

There is some debate about the recommended frequency of routine pelvic exams. Ask your care provider about what they recommend for you.

Diagnostic Exams

If you’re experiencing symptoms like unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge, pelvic pain, urinary issues, pain during sex, or skin changes, your doctor may recommend a pelvic exam to diagnose a possible medical condition. 

Pregnancy Exams

Pelvic exams are also performed during pregnancy. In most cases, an examination will be performed early in pregnancy. If there are no complications, usually there will be no additional pelvic exams until around 36 weeks. 

Some providers want to do them regularly throughout the remainder of the pregnancy to check for cervical ripening. But there is debate about whether this is necessary, and factors to consider involving risks such as accidentally rupturing the membranes.

What is a Pap Smear?

During the internal part of your pelvic exam, your doctor will likely use a speculum to spread open your vaginal walls and see your vagina and cervix. The speculum might be warmed before it’s inserted to make it more comfortable.

If your pelvic exam includes a Pap test, also known as a Pap smear, your doctor will swipe a small wand to collect a sample of your cervical cells before removing the speculum.

Making your pelvic exam vs pap smear more comfortable

For your pelvic exam and pap smear, it can be more comfortable for you if you empty your bladder beforehand. The doctor will palpitate your organs from the outside, and you don’t want to have a full bladder for that. It’s also a good idea to relax as much as possible, and to talk to your doctor about discomfort and alert them to any pain. 

Your doctor should keep you aware of what to expect and tell you what’s coming next and where you will feel their hands and instruments at any point. 

Compassionate care 

If you live in the Coral Springs area, you’re near a practice with top doctors on staff. For caring, experienced, and attentive doctors, Lona Sasser Obstetrics and Gynecology is South Florida’s choice. Schedule your appointment today!

Easily book online or give us a call at (954) 340-1050.


Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

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