Preparing For Your Annual Exam

Try to schedule the exam when you are not having your period, since blood can interfere with the results of a Pap smear. Minor spotting shouldn’t interfere. However, if you have a new vaginal discharge or new or increasing pelvic pain, a pelvic exam may be done while you are having your period.

Do not use douches, tampons, vaginal medications, or vaginal sprays or powders for at least 24 hours before having a pelvic exam.
If you have an abnormal discharge, do not have sex for 24 hours before having a pelvic exam. Semen in your vagina may interfere with your exam.
At the beginning of your visit, tell your doctor:

  • If you are or might be pregnant.
  • If you have any reproductive or urinary tract symptoms such as itching, redness, sores, swelling, or an unusual odor or increased vaginal discharge.
  • If you are using a method of birth control.
  • If this is your first pelvic exam.
  • The first day of your last menstrual period and how long your period lasted.
  • If you have had surgery or other procedures, such as radiation therapy, to the vagina, cervix, or uterus.
  • If you have had problems with pelvic exams in the past or are a survivor of rape or sexual abuse, talk to your doctor about your concerns or fears before the exam.