The speculum exam is an instrument that's inserted into the vagina and gently opens to let the doctor check the vaginal lining and cervix (located at the top of the vagina) and take specimens for further tests. The speculum may be plastic or metal. If it's metal, it may be cold. (You can ask the doctor to run it under warm water to make it more comfortable.) When the doctor starts the speculum exam, you'll feel the speculum and the doctor's hands in the area of the vulva and vagina. It might be a little uncomfortable when the speculum goes in, but it shouldn't be painful. It feels more like a pushing. Again, try to relax (don't forget to breathe!) so the muscles will be less tense. If you have any pain or discomfort when the speculum is inserted, tell your doctor so that adjustments can be made. For girls who haven't had intercourse or whose muscles around the vaginal opening are tighter, a smaller speculum can be used. During this part of the speculum exam, some women like to take the opportunity to space out! You might try closing your eyes, and thinking about something else —like waves at the beach, a favorite song, or just what you'll be doing when you get out of this exam! Others like to ask questions or have the doctor explain each thing he or she is doing —talking to the doctor makes them feel more comfortable. See what works for you. A note on the hymen and virginity A virgin is defined as a girl/woman who has not had sexual intercourse. But some people still think a virgin is a girl/woman whose hymen is still intact —which is wrong. You can be a virgin —and your hymen could have already been affected by strenuous sports or even riding a bike. And, believe it or not, some women can have sexual intercourse without the hymen being affected. So the real issue at a pelvic exam is comfort —if a woman hasn't had sexual intercourse, the muscles around the vagina may be tighter. So if you are a virgin, tell the doctor before your exam. She or he could use a smaller speculum, which is more comfortable and generally could keep the hymen intact.
Learn about a speculum exam and get helpful information and advice at BeingGirl.com.