Women's Health Matters

Text Size
Jump to body content

Regular Check-ups

You don't need to feel sick to visit your doctor! Visiting your health care provider periodically for a regular check-up helps make sure you stay healthy. Any health problems that are discovered can be treated early on, to protect your health.

This check-up is a good time to talk to your provider about your concerns. It is your chance to ask about birth control or any other aspect of your sexual, physical or mental health. If you get nervous going to your health care provider, or if he/she often seems to be in a hurry, write your questions down and tell him/her you have some questions when you first enter the office.

Try to go for your check up in the middle of your menstrual cycle not when you have your period. Avoid having sex or using vaginal medications or douche in the 24 hours before your appointment to avoid interfering with your Pap smear.

Vaginal Exam

A speculum is used to hold the vagina open during an exam.A vaginal exam is also sometimes called a pelvic or internal exam. To do the vaginal exam, your provider will ask you to lie flat on the examining table with your feet in the stirrups at the end of the table. The stirrups hold your feet and legs up and out of the way so your doctor can look into your vagina. Some health care providers do not use stirrups.

The doctor or nurse will wear gloves. He or she will use a device called a speculum to hold the vagina open. This allows a good look at your cervix and the inside of your vagina. You may feel pressure, but it should not be painful.

During the vaginal exam your doctor may:

  • take a swab of your cervix to check for infection
  • do a Pap smear to look for changes that may lead to cervical cancer if left untreated
  • feel your vagina, uterus and ovaries for lumps or tenderness

To check for infection, your provider will taking a sample from the cervix by touching it with a long handled Q-tip. This sample will be sent to the lab for testing. Your provider will also look to see if there is discharge or the vagina looks irritated.

To do a Pap smear, the provider will gently remove a few cells off of your cervix with a wooden spatula and a small brush (this does not hurt). Cells from the spatula and brush will be rubbed onto a glass slide and sent to a lab where they will be looked at under a microscope.

To check for lumps or tenderness in your uterus or ovaries, your doctor will put one or two fingers inside your vagina and press on your abdomen with the other hand.

You may wish to call your doctor about two weeks after your exam to find out about the results of these tests.

 

Jump to top page

Discussion Groups

Share knowledge and talk about your sexual health-related experiences with other women.

Sexual Health Discussion Forum


Infections and Safer Sex

Safer Sex

Risks Associated with Sexual Activity

Regular Check-ups

Infections

  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital