Great question, thank you! A pelvic exam is the way your health care provider (HCP) examines your female organs and checks for any gynecological problems. A pap test (smear) are usually performed every couple of years with a pelvic exam. Pap test (smear) involves a special tiny brush (looks like a super tiny broom) that the doctor swipes across your cervical tissue to obtain a sample of cells. The sample is then sent off to a lab for testing, to look for early changes in the cervix, before they become cancer. Most girls will have a normal pap test and will only need a pap test (smear) every 3 years after their first one! It’s important to note, that if your pap test result is abnormal, it does not mean that you have cancer, but you will likely need some further testing. Pelvic exams are recommended in women over the age of 21 years old or earlier if they experience symptoms such as pain and or discharge. However, there might be other reasons why your doctor would recommend an exam before your 21st birthday, so if you have concerns speak with your health care provider (HCP).
It’s totally normal for women to experience a little bit of discomfort following a pelvic exam, especially if it’s their first one. It’s also common for women after a pap test to have mild cramping and/or light bleeding for a couple of days after a pap test (smear). These symptoms are common because the cervix is sensitive after the test. However, if you are experiencing moderate to heavy bleeding and or moderate to severe pelvic pain, call your health care provider (HCP).