Pelvic examination

An internal examination (pelvic examination) can check for any lumps, swelling or anything unusual in the pelvis.

What is a pelvic examination?

A pelvic examination is an internal vaginal examination to check for any lumps, swelling or anything unusual in the pelvis.

The pelvis is the area of the body between the hips and the lower part of the body (abdomen). It contains:

  • the womb, ovaries, cervix, fallopian tubes, vagina and the vulva
  • the bladder
  • parts of the bowel.

The doctor does the internal examination by gently putting 1 or 2 fingers of their hand into the vagina. They will be wearing gloves. They then feel around the vagina. While they are doing this, they may put their other hand flat on the tummy area (lower abdomen) and press down.

You will have a nurse with you during your examination. An internal examination should not be painful, but it may be uncomfortable. You may feel embarrassed during this examination. If you have questions or worries about this, tell the nurse or doctor. They can answer any questions you have.

Why do I need a pelvic examination?

You may have a vaginal and pelvic internal examination if you have symptoms that could be caused by cancer such as:

Having an internal examination
Image: Having an internal examination


About our information

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Professor Nick Reed, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:

  • use plain English
  • explain medical words
  • use short sentences
  • use illustrations to explain text
  • structure the information clearly
  • make sure important points are clear.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.

You can read more about how we produce our information here.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 August 2021
Next review: 01 August 2024
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

This means it is easy to use, up-to-date and based on the latest evidence. Learn more about how we produce our information.