Can You Get A Pelvic Exam During Your Period?

Can You Get A Pelvic Exam During Your Period?

Scheduling your yearly pelvic exam can be challenging, especially when considering your menstrual cycle. These important check-ups, recommended every one to three years, help ensure everything is healthy with your reproductive system. But what if your period coincides with your appointment? 

You may wonder if proceeding with the exam during menstruation is okay. Knowing what is done during a pelvic exam and how your period may affect it can help you manage the situation and give you peace of mind at your next appointment. 

The Short Answer

The short answer is yes, you can have a pelvic exam during your period. During the procedure, your OB-GYN will start with a breast exam and a visual check of the external genitalia for any irregularities. 

They will then conduct an internal examination, which involves gently inserting a speculum into the vagina. A speculum works by opening the vagina slightly, allowing a clear view of the vaginal canal and cervix. Next, they perform a manual exam using their hands to feel the abdomen and insert fingers into the vagina. 

This is to check the uterus and ovaries for any abnormalities or discomfort. These steps ensure a thorough evaluation of your reproductive health and can be comfortably completed even during menstruation.

Why It’s Advised Against Scheduling Exams During Your Menstrual Period

Doctors are skilled at conducting pelvic exams under various conditions, and a little vaginal bleeding doesn’t prevent them from evaluating your overall health. However, many clinicians still recommend avoiding scheduling your appointment during a period. Here’s why:

  • Reduced visibility. During heavy bleeding, excess blood can cover the cervix and vaginal walls, making it hard for doctors and medical assistants to see these tissues clearly. This can lead to missing signs of conditions like infections, abnormal growths, or other irregularities that need attention.
  • Comfort for the patient. Menstruation can heighten feelings of discomfort or sensitivity, and you might feel uncomfortable or embarrassed due to the bleeding. This can make for a more stressful pelvic exam, leaving you unable to relax. A bad experience can lead to emotional distress and make it harder for the provider to perform the exam to safeguard your reproductive health
  • Impact on certain tests. The presence of menstrual blood can dilute or contaminate samples collected during the exam, such as those needed for Pap smears or bacterial cultures. This can lead to inaccurate test results, requiring the tests to be redone later and delaying diagnosis and treatment if needed.
  • Scheduling flexibility. For routine and non-urgent exams, rescheduling to a time outside of your menstrual period can help you feel comfortable and more at ease. This flexibility allows you to plan ahead and choose a time when you’re likely to feel at your best, both physically and emotionally, making the exam process smoother and less stressful.

Are There Times When You May Need to Go During Your Period?

You may want to avoid scheduling during your period for standard pelvic exams, but there are times when you might need to visit your provider when menstruating. 

For instance, if you’re experiencing severe or concerning symptoms such as unusual vaginal discharge, pelvic pain or prolonged bleeding, your doctor can conduct an exam immediately. This allows for the diagnosis and treatment of any underlying issues, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which may require hormonal birth control to regulate.

When your menstrual cycle is irregular, or if you’re experiencing heavier or longer periods than usual, you may need to schedule an exam during your period. This can provide valuable insights into the cause of these abnormalities, allowing the clinician to assess the bleeding’s volume, duration, and pattern.

How to Track Your Menstruation to Make the Right Appointment

When planning for your pelvic exams, tracking your menstruation can be helpful. Using a menstruation tracking app allows you to monitor your menstrual health closely, noting the start and end dates of your period, cycle length and any symptoms you experience. 

This information can help you schedule appointments when you’re not menstruating. Apps like Clue and Flo offer tracking features, including the ability to log sexual activity, which can also impact pelvic exam scheduling.  

Stay Comfortable During Your Next Pelvic Exam

The female reproductive health journey can be complex, but with the right information and tools, you can take charge to stay comfortable, happy and healthy. At Nella, we’re all about helping women feel less anxiety and fear surrounding pelvic exams, which is why we designed a modern speculum tool that’s discreet, quiet and slim. 

Our disposable speculum is made of medical-grade polymer, making it easy for your provider to use during your exam and dispose of, whether you’re on your period or not. Get the Nella for your next appointment by referring your provider or ordering a Comfort Kit to your home today.
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