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Pregnancy is that crucial time that requires you to take care of yourself more than ever. And it is this time that involves an ample number of visits to your doctor. The doctor would, in turn, conduct prenatal check-ups, one of them being a pelvic exam.
This prenatal checkup helps in monitoring the well being of you as well as your baby. If you have any confusion when it comes to a pelvic exam, the following section could help save the day.
What is Pelvic Exam in Pregnancy
A pelvic exam is a procedure followed by your physician to examine the vaginal area and the adjoining regions of the pelvis. General anaesthesia is usually given prior to the pelvic exam. Also, the vaginal fluids may be collected during a pelvic exam to check for any infections. The vulva, uterus, cervix, ovaries, bladder or even rectum is checked when a pregnant woman undergoes a pelvic exam.
When and Why is a Prenatal Pelvic Exam Performed
In most cases, the pelvic exam is undergone during the first or the third trimester of pregnancy. In some rare cases though, when a woman would be going through certain complications; a pelvic exam could be conducted. Read on to know in detail:
- First Trimester: A pelvic exam during early pregnancy is conducted in order to scrutinize whether the cervix has been properly covered up by the mucus plug.
- Third Trimester: A pelvic exam in pregnancy’s third trimester is a normal prenatal test. This is done more frequently or even on your every visit to the doctor. The reason for the pelvic exam is to check the effacement and dilation of the cervix in order to know the left time for delivery.
- Complications: In case you are going through complications such as spotting, you are prone to preterm labour, a noticeable growth in the pelvic area is observed or are suffering from any vaginal infection; a pelvic exam could be conducted during any time of your pregnancy.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Conducting the Exam
If you agree to move on with the pelvic exam, the following considerations should be kept in mind:
- You should empty your bladder completely before a pelvic exam.
- You should keep yourself warm and covered.
- Privacy is a major concern, and for the same reason, you need to make clear beforehand whether you want hospital or clinic staff around or not.
- You need to relax and take deep breaths so that your pelvic floor muscles relax too.
How is Pelvic Assessment during Pregnancy Done
When a pelvic exam is undergone usually the shape, the dimension and, the positioning of the pelvis is examined. One should also know that a pelvic exam involves mainly two components, i.e. manual and visual.
The manual evaluation involves checking of the vulva or more aptly the external genitalia, and the internal evaluation of the vaginal walls. On the other hand, the visual examination involves scrutinizing of all the pelvic organs with the help of a device known as the speculum.
The procedure of a pelvic exam is explained as follows:
- The first step involves baring your lower part of the body and laying down on your back on a table.
- Next, you need to lift your knees up and spread both of the legs wide apart.
- The doctor with the gloved hands would then put his index and the middle finger into the vagina in order to examine the cervix.
- A speculum test is undergone next. In this test, a speculum or a hollow cylinder that has a rounded end is inserted in the vagina. Once the speculum enters the vagina, it opens up so as to make it easy for the doctor to conduct the examination.
- A Pap smear test may also be undergone during the pelvic exam in order to check for any cancerous elements in the cervix.
- Bladder and rectal tests are also conducted sometimes in order to check for UTI and haemorrhoids.
Are There Any Risks Involved
The following risks may be involved in a pelvic exam:
- Infections may spread due to a pelvic exam. This is due to bacteria that may be present in the vagina being pushed up the cervix.
- Severe damage could also occur, i.e. the cervix may get stimulated which, in turn, could lead to labour. And, in case your baby is not yet developed to come out, the probability of a preterm baby would increase.
- The pelvic exam could also lead to a condition known as PROM, i.e. premature rupture of membrane.
- The result of a pelvic exam indicates the time when a woman would go into the labour. And, in case that time doesn’t match in reality, a woman may get anxious. This, in turn, can lead to her requesting for labour induction.
Can Pelvic Exam Indicate when You will Go into Labour
Though a pelvic exam can determine an approximate date when you would go into labour, the exact time and date are not at all feasible to know. There is a study that indicates that when a baby gets fully developed, a substance gets secreted from his lungs. This secreted substance, in turn, triggers labour. Therefore, the study rules out the fact that the cervix examination would indicate when labour would occur.
When your physician tells you that your cervix has dilated that nowhere means that you are nearing labour. It is known that a woman’s cervix dilates for about 1-2 cm, even for about a couple of weeks.
Hope that all the mentioned information has settled your curiosities well. Note that the pelvic exam can only be conducted based on your consent. No matter what the situation you should agree to go through the test.
Moreover, your doctor should explain in detail prior to the exam why it is important for your condition. Do not panic if there is spotting after a pelvic exam during pregnancy. A light bleeding after pelvis exam during pregnancy is pretty normal. But if heavy bleeding occurs post a pelvic exam that could pose an issue. Consult your doctor immediately if in case bleeding continues for over 24 hours.