Island Sexual Health Society Be informed, not surprised!

Sexual health exams for Females

2010 September 29

If you are female, BC Cancer Agency recommends that you should start having annual Pap tests at age 21 or approx. 3 years after first sexual contact with either gender, whichever occurs first. You should continue with PAP testing even if you don’t have sex anymore.

We offer annual sexual health check-ups including PAP exams and STI/STD tests, at all of our clinics in Greater Victoria, BC.

All services are confidential.

Here is what to expect during your annual exam at our clinics.

Make an appointment, or read more about what to bring to your appointment.

What should I know before an exam?

Don’t put anything in the vagina for 48 hours before the exam (contraceptive jellies/foams (spermicides), douching)

Pap tests are not recommended during your period. A mid-cycle test is best.

You will be asked the date of when your last menstrual period (lmp) began.

Who is in the room during exams?

You are welcome to bring a friend, partner or parent for any part of your exam. We have both male and female doctors; male doctors have trained female assistants in the room during exams.

Medical and sexual history

The doctor will need to assess your sexually transmitted infection risks, sexual health, and risk factors for any birth control you are using, and may ask you about:

  • your sexual history
  • family medical history
  • existing medical conditions or medication
  • birth control you are using

The doctor will also take your blood pressure and listen to your heart.

Breast exam

If you like, the doctor will examine your breasts and show you how to do a breast self-exam.

Pelvic exam (internal exam)

You will have privacy while you get undressed from the waist down, and you’ll be given a paper sheet to cover yourself.

The doctor will ask you to lie on the exam table and put your legs up in the examination stirrups. Taking deep breaths and letting your knees flop wide apart can help relax your muscles and make the exam more comfortable.

The pelvic exam takes about 3 – 5 minutes.

  • Wearing gloves, the doctor will first touch your outer vulva area to check for infection or sores.
  • Next, the doctor will gently insert a plastic speculum (a special tool used to hold your vagina open) for the internal exam. It may feel uncomfortable at first but it won’t be painful.
  • The doctor will use a wooden Pap stick (like a small tongue depressor) to collect some cells for the Pap test, which checks for early cell changes that could lead to cervical cancer.
  • The doctor will use a swab (like a Q-tip) and collect some cells for chlamydia and gonorrheatests (all ISHS clinics include these tests, but it is not standard everywhere).
  • The doctor will then remove the speculum and throw it away. The doctor will insert two gloved fingers into your vagina and with the other hand will press down on your abdomen to check your ovaries and uterus, to make sure they are a normal size and that you are not in any pain or discomfort. This is called a bimanual exam.

That’s it! The doctor and assistant will leave the room while you get dressed.

The results of your Pap exam and infection tests will be kept in your file. If there are any problems with your tests, we will contact you (confidentially) and ask you to come in to review these results.

Full infection screening on request

We recommend that everyone have a complete screening for sexually transmitted infections with your annual exam, unless you decline based on low risk. We will include the necessary swabs and blood tests if you ask.

Please note: If you get blood tests, we require you to book a followup appointment to get your results. We will not give out test results over the phone.

Your questions

You will have time to ask the doctor questions if you would like. You may wish to write down questions ahead of time so you don’t forget.