Health & Well-Being
All things wellness affecting BIPOC womxn.
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." - Audre Lorde
This post is dedicated to the time of the month that all women hate. And nah, we're not talking about periods. Nope. The NEXT time. The annual, DREADED, pelvic (aka vaginal exam). But is it really annual? Or is it every two years? Or is it every three? If you're (like me) a little confused about the next time to schedule your exam, or maybe you want to know when is the right time to get one...let's find out from trusted health professionals at Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is a network of trusted health centers that deliver vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide. For more information, please click the URL link above (in purple).
When you turn 21, a pelvic exam should become a regular part of your wellness visit. A pelvic exam is a normal part of taking care of your body. It literally only takes a few minutes and while many people would like to say it doesn’t hurt....I am here to tell you the TRUTH- that shit it AWFUL. But, nonetheless, they're important ladies. And here's why:
1. Pelvic Exams help detect precancerous conditions before symptoms even start.
2. Pelvic exams can also help detect infections, ovarian tumors and uterine fibroids.
What happens during a pelvic exam?
During your pelvic exam, your healthcare provider will examine your vulva and your internal reproductive organs — your vagina, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. If you think you have an STI, your pelvic exam is also a great opportunity to address this. If you need the HPV vaccine (perfect way to get you to read my last post), this is also a great opportunity to address this. Let your provider know at the beginning of your appointment, and they’ll talk with you and help you decide how you both should proceed.
There are three or four parts to a pelvic exam (God, I hope I never have to go through the fourth part):
1. The external exam — Your provider will look at your vulva and the opening of your vagina. This is to check for signs of cysts, abnormal discharge, genital warts, irritation, or other arising issues.
2. The speculum exam — Take a deep breath bitch. This is where it gets a little rock.y Your provider will slide a speculum into your vagina. This should be done gently. So, if it's not...do not be afraid to speak up and let your provider know. Also, don't be afraid if you need a moment to get yourself relaxed. Like I said...deep breaths sis. The speculum is made of metal or plastic (my OB uses plastic). It separates the walls of your vagina when it opens. This WILL feel uncomfortable. But, it shouldn’t hurt. That's what people say but once again...I'm not here to lie to you. It may hurt sis. Let your doctor know if it does, because they may be able to fix the size or position of the speculum.
3. The bimanual exam — During this part of the exam, your provider will put on a glove and use one or two lubricated fingers (like your man sis. lmao okay okay, let me serious) into your vagina while gently pressing on your lower abdomen with their other hand. This is to check: 1) the size, shape, and position of your uterus, 2) if you feel any tenderness or pain, and/or 3) enlarged ovaries, fallopian tubes, ovarian cysts, or tumors.
4. The rectovaginal exam — Remember when Future said...."I'ma put my thumb in her butt?" Well sis...here's your time. IF your provider does a rectovaginal exam, they may put a gloved finger into your rectum. This checks the muscles between your vagina and your anus. This also checks for tumors behind your uterus, on the lower wall of your vagina, or in your rectum. Some providers put another finger in your vagina while they do this. This lets them examine the tissue in between more thoroughly.
The big question is- how often do we need to get a pelvic exams? I went to my most recent exam, thinking I had another year (or two) before my next one. I had no idea it was supposed to be "every" year. And in some cases, providers may tell you that. According to Planned Parenthood, here's the answer:
It depends. After your first pelvic exam, your provider should tell you when you need to come back. It’ll depend on your medical history and whether you have any health issues.
You may need more frequent pelvic exams if you have:
So, there it is. This is what happens at the annual pelvic exam. Please note, your provider may turn your pelvic exam into a complete "well-woman" exam and that includes a breast exam and pap smear. For more information, please visit here .