Do I need to do anything to prepare for the pelvic exam?

A Answers (2)

  • AKevin Windom, MD, OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology), answered

    It is not necessary to do anything specific prior to a pelvic exam.  I just tell patients that it is important to empty their bowel and bladder before the exam because it will make is somewhat more comfortable.  Also, patients need to relax if possible, and this will make the exam less painful.  Lastly, the patient needs to be comfortable with the doctor who is performing the pelvic exam.  If she is not comfortable with the doctor performing the pelvic exam, she should consider rescheduling her procedure possibly with a different medical provider.

  • AHealthwise answered
    Before a pelvic exam:
    • Try to schedule the exam when you are not having your period, since blood can interfere with the results of a Pap test. But if you have a new vaginal discharge or new or increasing pelvic pain, a pelvic exam may be done while you are having your period.
    • Do not use douches, tampons, vaginal medications or vaginal sprays or powders for at least 24 hours.
    • Do not have sex for 24 hours prior to the exam if you have abnormal vaginal discharge.
    At the beginning of your visit, tell your health professional:
    • If you are or might be pregnant.
    • If you have any reproductive or urinary tract symptoms such as itching, redness, sores, swelling or an unusual odor or increased vaginal discharge. If you have been performing regular vaginal self-exams, discuss any changes you have noticed with your health professional.
    • If you are using a method of birth control.
    • If this is your first pelvic exam.
    • The first day of your last menstrual period and how long your period lasted.
    • If you have had surgery or other procedures, such as radiation therapy, involving the vagina, cervix or uterus.
    If you have had problems with pelvic exams in the past or have experienced rape or sexual abuse, talk to your health professional about your concerns or fears before the exam.

    No other special preparations are needed before having a pelvic exam. For your own comfort, you may want to empty your bladder before the exam.

    Talk to your health professional about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done or what the results may mean.

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. To learn more visit

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

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What is a pelvic exam?