You’ll remove your clothes, lie on an examining table and put your feet in holders called stirrups. You’ll have a disposable sheet or robe for privacy. Your doctor will insert a tool called a speculum into your vagina, then widen it gently to examine your cervix. Your doctor will also use a swab to remove cells from your cervix and send them to a lab to test for cancer. The test is called a Pap smear.
It’s normal to feel a little discomfort. However, if the speculum or Pap smear is painful, tell your doctor. He or she will also examine your breasts and your abdomen and may test you for HPV (human papillomavirus, or genital warts). You’ll get your results within a few weeks.
If you’re 21 or older, your doctor will probably want you to have a pelvic exam every year until you’re 65. After that, you may need exams less often.