Questions to Ask the Doctor
How often do I need testing for STIs?
- Your health care professional will begin with a medical history and ask about the symptoms you are experiencing. You will be asked about your medical problems, contraceptives you use, medications you are taking, family history of disease, your sexual activity, last menstrual period, and whether you have been pregnant and have given birth.
- For the physical exam, you will be placed on your back, with your bottom at the edge of the table, and your legs elevated and supported by stirrups.
- The doctor will inspect your external genitalia for redness, swelling, or any signs of irritation or injury.
- An instrument called a speculum will be inserted into your vagina to hold the vaginal walls apart, permitting an inspection of your cervix and vaginal lining for redness, irritation, unusual discharge, or sores.
- The doctor will collect a sample for a Pap smear by swabbing the cervix. The doctor will also collect samples to test for gonorrhea and Chlamydia and possibly a slide preparation for the diagnosis of other infections. The Pap test can be used to rule out the possibility of cervical cancer or precancerous changes.
- The doctor then will complete a bimanual, or 2-handed exam. Two fingers of one hand are inserted into the vagina with the other hand pressing down on the abdomen. This procedure helps the doctor determine the size and location of the uterus and cervix and to check for pain, tenderness, or any irregularity. This part of the exam produces pressure in the lower abdomen and pelvic area. It is normal to feel pressure, if you feel pain, notify your doctor immediately. With cervicitis, you may feel pain when the doctor moves the cervix from side to side.
- A biopsy (a sample of tissue is taken) might be recommended if your cervix appears abnormal.
- Colposcopy is a procedure that uses a binocular-like instrument to get a magnified view of the surface of the cervix.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/8/2014
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