The first thing in will generally be a speculum. This is a device that goes in to spread the vaginal walls to allow the doctor to see in. There will be bright lights focused on your vagina to aid in this. While the doctor looks around, she or he will also use a swab to take a sample of cells from your cervix. You’ll barely be able to feel the swab, so don’t be too worried about it. The swab is then sent away for testing to see if you have (pre-)cancerous cells. This is called a Pap smear. REMEMBER, this only tests for one type of gynecologic cancer (cervical). Keeping track of your periods and pelvic health is your best bet for detecting other types of cancer.
After the swab for the Pap smear has been collected the doctor will “manipulate” your pelvis. That is to say, it’s time for the rough and tumble part of the exam. Really, it is not as bad as it sounds or may look in the diagram below. (Believe me, I have had several severe pelvic surgeries and I make it through the pelvic manipulation fine.) This, to me, is the most important part of the exam. The doctor is using her or his hands to “see” what’s inside you and to make sure all is well. It’s normal to grimace. It’s not the most normal feeling, but it will soon be over!
Ask questions! Generally, after the manual exam, the doctor says you can sit up. This is your invitation to ask questions. Since this is your first time, you should ask as many questions as you want. Many doctors’ offices will schedule first-timers with longer appointments because they expect the patients to have more questions. Don’t be shy. If there is any thing that you don’t understand or have reservations about below the belt, ASK! The doctor will be able to help explain whatever it may be, and this will put your mind at ease.
Remember, this guide is intended as a rough guide to your first visit. No two appointments will ever be identical. It is important to do what is right for you. Please feel free to add your comments and questions and thanks for reading!