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Endometriosis Pelvic Exam - An Overview

You will most likely have gone to your doctor with some symptoms that are concerning you or causing you pain or discomfort. You may have been referred to a specialist by your usual doctor. In order to diagnose endometriosis, or to determine the extent of the disease, your doctor or gynecologist may need to perform an endometriosis pelvic exam. An accurate diagnosis is necessary to know the correct treatment for your condition and to achieve the best results from the treatment.

An endometriosis pelvic exam is necessary so the doctor can determine whether there is an anatomical problem; that is, whether the pelvic organs are in the correct position and of normal size. Endometriosis can affect the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, liver, bladder, bowel or any of the tissue within the abdominal cavity. A physical pelvic exam is the best way to make this determination.

A pelvic exam is sometimes called an internal examination, because the doctor needs to feel inside the vagina, rectum and uterus for any abnormalities. An instrument called a speculum is used to allow a clearer view. The process should not cause you pain although some women do complain of a feeling of discomfort. It is important to try and stay relaxed and calm as this will make the exam easier and less uncomfortable. If you have never had a pelvic exam before, tell the doctor so that the procedure can be fully explained to you.

The doctor will be able to give you the results of your pelvic exam when the procedure is finished. The results of your exam could be normal, meaning that no abnormalities were found in the vagina or rectum including the space between them, there was no pain or tenderness when parts of the abdomen were pressed, no hardening of tissue was felt and the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus were felt to be a normal size and in the correct place anatomically.

If your results were not normal, the doctor will explain the situation to you. The uterus may have been painful or tender to touch or movement; the uterus was unable to be moved, even slightly, which could indicate that adhesions or scar tissue could be present.

Abnormal results may involve other parts of the pelvic cavity. Endometriosis may be indicated if you had pain in the cul-de-sac area between the rectum and vagina when the area was touched, or the doctor could feel abnormal tissue there. Your ovaries may have been painful when the area was handled or they may have been unable to be moved, indicating adhesions there. Lesions or lumps may have been visible or felt on the cervix, vagina or labia, or hardened tissue might have been felt in other areas.

Your doctor will explain the implications of the abnormal results of your endometriosis pelvic exam and advise you of the possible treatment options available to you. This is the time to ask lots of questions, even if you think they sound silly. You have a right to have all your questions and uncertainties answered and important to do so. It is important to remember that even a normal result from your endometriosis pelvic exam does not rule out that you have endometriosis; further tests may be needed.

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