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HealthInfo Canterbury

Pelvic examination

A pelvic examination is when your doctor checks your pelvic organs. These include your bladder, small bowel and rectum (the final section of your large intestine). In women, they also include your vagina, uterus (womb) and ovaries.

illustration identifying the male and female pelvic organs

Reasons for having a pelvic examination

You may need a pelvic examination to help your doctor diagnose and assess your urinary problems. It allows your doctor to:

How a pelvic examination is done

To do a pelvic examination, your doctor uses their fingers to examine your stomach. This is called palpation.

Women may also need a vaginal examination so your doctor can palpate your bladder. This is when your doctor inserts two lubricated gloved fingers into your vagina. They then press gently on the outside of your lower stomach with their other hand.

Men may also need a rectal examination so your doctor can palpate your bladder. This is when your doctor gently inserts a lubricated gloved finger into your anal canal. The rectal examination also allows them to feel the size, shape and texture of your prostate.

Risks or possible complications

A pelvic examination shouldn't be painful although it can feel uncomfortable. There are no risks with a pelvic examination.

Getting the test results

Your doctor will give you the results of the pelvic examination when they've finished the examination.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created November 2019.

Page reference: 628319

Review key: HICYC-433367