The Physical Exam during Your First Prenatal Appointment - dummies

The Physical Exam during Your First Prenatal Appointment

By Joanne Stone, Keith Eddleman, Mary Duenwald

At your first prenatal visit, your practitioner examines your head, neck, breasts, heart, lungs, abdomen, and extremities. She also performs an internal exam. During this exam, your practitioner evaluates your uterus, cervix, and ovaries, and performs, if due, a Pap test (cervix cancer and pre-cancer screening).

[Credit: Kathryn Born, MA]
Credit: Kathryn Born, MA

The recommendations for cervical cancer screening have changed over the last few years. No screening is needed for women under age 21. For women age 21–29, a Pap test is recommended every three years. The recommendation for women age 30–65 is a Pap test plus human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every five years, or a Pap test only every three years.

Be sure to inform your physician if you feel you also should be tested for the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases, because the Pap test doesn’t screen for all of them.

After the exam, you and your practitioner will discuss the overall plan for your pregnancy and talk about any possible problems. You can also discuss what medications you can take while you’re pregnant, when you should call for help, and what tests you can expect to undergo throughout your pregnancy.