Cervical checks are essential for monitoring labor progress during pregnancy, but they can be painful for some women. If you experience discomfort or feel pressure during cervical checks, addressing these sensations with your provider can make the experience less painful and stressful.
Using helpful tips for pelvic exams, like choosing the right healthcare provider, practicing relaxation techniques and using a slim, modern speculum, can make your cervical check less invasive. Here are a few actionable actions you can take during your appointment to help yourself relax.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
- Deep breathing. This is a simple yet powerful tool to calm your nerves. Before and during your exam, focus on taking slow, deep breaths.
Inhale deeply, filling your lungs with air and then exhale slowly. This helps to regulate your heart rate and relax your body, creating a sense of calm. Concentrate on each breath to help divert your mind from stress or aches.
- Visualization techniques. Visualization techniques can help reduce anxiety leading up to and during the exam. This method creates a mental image of a peaceful and stress-free place or situation.
For instance, imagine yourself on a quiet beach or in a tranquil forest. Focus on the details in your mind’s eye – the sounds, the scents and the scenery. This mental escape can reduce anxiety and create a more relaxed state of mind.
Discuss Pain Concerns
Before your cervical check, take proactive steps to communicate any anxieties with your provider. Here’s how you can make this conversation more effective:
Be open about your anxiety. If you have gynecologist anxiety or have had previous negative experiences during your first pelvic exam, let your doctor know. Be specific about what aspects of the exam make you anxious and any particular incidents that might have contributed to your unease in the past.
Ask about speculum options. Inquire if your healthcare provider’s office uses modern, patient-friendly equipment, such as a disposable speculum like the Nella. This speculum is made of flexible medical-grade polymer and is slimmer than traditional models, helping alleviate the pressure of opening your cervix during your exam.
- Discuss pain management. If you have specific pain concerns, discuss them openly. Ask your provider if you can take additional steps before the exam, such as taking an over-the-counter medication to reduce unwanted physical sensations.
Use Distraction Methods
Distracting yourself during the exam is an effective way to ease distress. This can include listening to an engaging story, mentally planning an enjoyable activity or listening to your favorite music. For example, if you plan to listen to music during your appointment, you can do the following:
- Select soothing or favorite music. Before your appointment, choose music that relaxes you or tracks you love.
- Prepare your device. Ensure your phone or music player is fully charged and your playlist is queued up. Consider downloading a few songs if your phone has trouble connecting to the internet.
- Use headphones for immersion. Bring headphones to fully immerse yourself in the music and maintain privacy. Let your provider know your plan so they know how to get your attention if needed.
- Start as the check begins. Begin playing your music right as the check starts to keep your mind engaged.
- Focus on the melody and rhythm. Concentrate on the details of the music – the lyrics, melody and beat – to divert your attention from the exam.
Try Coughing or Bearing Down
During a cervical check, gently coughing or bearing down can help reduce painful sensations. This technique distracts from pressure sensations and helps relax your pelvic muscles, which could make for a less stressful procedure.
To use this technique, take a deep breath, then gently cough or exert downward pressure with your abdominal and pelvic muscles. It will feel similar to the effort used to pass a bowel movement.
Focusing on these muscle groups can help alleviate unpleasant feelings as your doctor performs the visual exam or Pap smear, if necessary.
Ask for Breaks if Needed
If you start feeling overwhelmed, requesting a brief pause is okay. Here’s how to know when you might need one and ways to ask:
- Recognize your limits. If the sensation shifts from mild discomfort to pain or you feel anxious or panicked, it’s time to speak up.
- Communicate clearly. Simply say, “Can we pause for a moment?” or “I need a short break, please.”
- Use non-verbal cues. If speaking up is difficult, try raising your hand or making eye contact to signal your need.
- Explain if possible. Offer a brief explanation, like “I'm feeling a bit too much discomfort” or “I need to catch my breath.”
During a cervical check, a considerate healthcare provider will prioritize your well-being. Upon your request, they’ll pause for a break, allowing you time to relax. They’ll then ensure you’re ready before continuing, adjusting their technique to ease your experience.
Make Your Cervical Check Stress-Free With Nella
Your cervical exam is an essential part of your prenatal care. It helps your provider evaluate cervical effacement and dilation, know the status of the amniotic sac and determine if a cesarean section might be necessary.
With the Nella disposable speculum with a light, you can ensure that this process is as simple and pain-free as possible. Nella speculums are thoughtfully designed to make visits to the gynecologist much more pleasant, whether it’s your first appointment or routine care for your upcoming delivery.You can find a provider who uses Nella or order your own to bring with you to future screenings and exams. Take control of your comfort today with Nella.