Routine gynecological care is essential for all women. The
annual exam consists of a breast exam, pelvic exam, pap smear, and sometimes a
rectovaginal exam. Every woman should have an annual Pap smear as part of a
complete pelvic examination beginning 3 years after having vaginal intercourse
but not later than 21 years of age and continuing as determined by her
Why It Is Done:
A pelvic exam may be done:
* As part of a woman's regular physical checkup. A Pap test
may be done during the pelvic exam. For more information, see the medical
test Pap Test.
* To detect vaginal infections, such as yeast infections or
* To help detect sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such
as chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, or human papillomavirus (HPV).
* To help determine the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding.
* To evaluate pelvic organ abnormalities, such as uterine
fibroids, ovarian cysts, or uterine prolapse.
* To evaluate abdominal or pelvic pain.
* Before prescribing a method of birth control
(contraception). Some methods of birth control, such as a diaphragm or
intrauterine device, require a pelvic exam to make sure the device fits