Get to Know Your Vaginal Anatomy Through a Pelvic Exam
Most women will have a pelvic exam during their annual check-up or if they are having a problem involving the female reproductive system. So what exactly is your doctor looking for during this exam? There are two parts to the exam: a visual and a physical exam.
The visual part of the exam involves inspecting the mons pubis, the vulva (which includes the labia minora and majora, and the clitoris), the vagina, the perineum and the anus (see diagram).
Doctors look at the external genitalia and hair distribution and for any rashes, bumps, ulcers, irritation, or unusual vaginal discharge. From there, they will separate the labia majora and look at the labia minora (smaller vaginal lips), the clitoris, urethra (the hole you urinate from), the vaginal opening called the introitus, and hymen.
Once finished looking at the external genitalia, they will use a speculum to visualize the inside of the vagina. The vagina should appear pink, rugate, and moist. The vagina is about 4 centimeters in length and at the opposite end of the vagina is the cervix. The cervix should look like a smooth pink doughnut. The provider will also look at the bladder and rectum to see if they are well supported and not protruding out into the vagina. Depending on the reason for your visit, your gyno could do a pap smear (a screening test for cervical cancer), take a sample of abnormal discharge you may be experiencing, or swab the cervix for sexually transmitted infections.
The physical part of the exam follows the visual part of the exam. This includes a bimanual exam in which the doctor will place two fingers inside the vagina and the cervix will be moved from side to side. If this elicits any pain, called cervical motion tenderness then this may be a sign of enlarged ovaries due to a cyst, or ovarian mass. Another reason for pain could be an infection in fallopian tubes and ovaries called pelvic inflammatory disease or tubo-ovarian abscess. This is commonly caused by sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia but Bacteroides and other less common bacteria can be the culprit.
From there, the top of the uterus is then palpated. The doctor will then feel for the size, mobility, and if it is irregularly shaped, keeping in mind that the normal size of a uterus is 6-8cm. An irregular or enlarged uterus may be due to fibroids or adenomyosis. Fibroids are caused by encapsulated smooth muscle that can grow inside or on the outside of the uterus. Adenomyosis is where the inner lining of the uterus grows into the muscle portion of the uterus called the myometrium. This is more common in women in their 40s and can cause painful periods, bloating, and heavy periods. The uterus could also be fixed or retroverted (meaning tilted toward the spine_ which can be a normal finding, but could also be due to endometriosis and cause pain during intercourse.
There is a lot of information your doctor can get from a pelvic exam which is such an important part of the women's wellness exam. If the exam reveals anything unusual, your doctor will discuss any tests, treatments, and additional follow-up appointments that you need.
Getting familiar with your vaginal anatomy is so important and shouldn't be scary! Embrace the body that you're in and get to know your lady parts.
Shop Our Best-Selling Wellness Solutions
Provide fast bloating relief*$17.49 Subscribe & Save$24.99 One-time Purchase
Digestive enzymes and herbs to support bloat management.* ibs, byebye bloat, bye bye blot, byebyebloat, bye bye bloa, byebye, debloat, buy buy bl...View full details$17.49 Subscribe & Save$24.99 One-time PurchaseSale Sale
Longer, thicker hair*$20.99 Subscribe & Save$29.99 One-time Purchase
NEW! Fuller, thicker hair with scalp-supporting probiotics.* HOW IT WORKS We've included ingredients like AnaGain™ Nu, a clinically-tested protein...View full details$20.99 Subscribe & Save$29.99 One-time PurchaseSale Sale
Maintain vaginal health*$17.49 Subscribe & Save$24.99 One-time Purchase
A vaginal probiotic that maintains urinary tract health while balancing vaginal pH and bacteria.* Probiotics For Vaginal Health, pro biotic, goo...View full details$17.49 Subscribe & Save$24.99 One-time PurchaseSale Sale
For healthy yeast levels$13.99 Subscribe & Save$19.99 One-time Purchase
Developed by doctors and designed to maintain healthy levels of yeast. HOW IT WORKS The Killer balances pH and maintains healthy yeast levels so ...View full details$13.99 Subscribe & Save$19.99 One-time PurchaseSale Sale
Reduce food cravings*$17.49 Subscribe & Save$24.99 One-time Purchase
Boost metabolism and reduce food cravings.* HOW IT WORKS Organic green tea and the important mineral selenium help boost metabolism and reduce unw...View full details$17.49 Subscribe & Save$24.99 One-time PurchaseSale Sale
Detoxification and regularity*$20.99 Subscribe & Save$29.99 One-time Purchase
Super greens blend that supports normal detoxification for digestion, immunity, and overall health* HOW IT WORKS This fiber-based supplement conta...View full details$20.99 Subscribe & Save$29.99 One-time PurchaseSale Sale
Healthy gut = healthy you$52.49 Subscribe & Save$74.99 One-time Purchase
Beat bloat with this combo of fiber, digestive enzymes, and probiotics that naturally boost your gut health.* A $85 value! gut, bloating, gas, re...View full details$52.49 Subscribe & Save$74.99 One-time PurchaseSale Sale
Your fresh start is here$76.99 Subscribe & Save$109.99 One-time Purchase
Commit to total-body health with one hardworking kit. A $145 value! FREE 15-Day Supply of Call Me Collagen with all New You '22 Kits! HOW IT WORKS...View full details$76.99 Subscribe & Save$109.99 One-time PurchaseSale Sale
Digestion & immunity*$20.99 Subscribe & Save$29.99 One-time Purchase
Your immune system's first line of defense.* probiotics, gut, bloating, gas, digestion, immunity, balance prebiotics, postbiotics, pre-pro HOW IT...View full details$20.99 Subscribe & Save$29.99 One-time PurchaseSale Sale
Support your gut-skin connection*$17.49 Subscribe & Save$24.99 One-time Purchase
Clinically tested to clear acne† and support your gut-skin connection.* skin, clear skin, acne, probiotics, gut health HOW IT WORKS Our formula ...View full details$17.49 Subscribe & Save$24.99 One-time PurchaseSale Sale