Will I have an internal exam during appointments?

It’s unlikely you will have an internal examination (inside your vagina) until you go into labour unless there is a possible problem

The routine tests you’ll have during your pregnancy do not include an internal exam (inside your vagina). If your pregnancy is uncomplicated, your healthcare professionals will only ask to do an internal exam after you have gone into labour. This is done to check how far your cervix has opened, which will tell them how advanced your labour is. Your doctor or midwife should ask your permission and explain why you are being offered an internal examination.

You will be offered a membrane sweep (also known as a cervical sweep) towards the end of your pregnancy (around 40-41 weeks) if it looks like your baby will be late. This involves your midwife putting a finger inside your vagina to reach your cervix and gently making sweeping movements to separate the membranes. This can help kick-start your labour. Membrane sweeps don’t hurt, but you may feel a bit uncomfortable afterwards.

Speculum and/or vaginal examinations

You may have an internal examination if there are any concerns in your pregnancy, such as if your doctor or midwife believes you have an infection, if you have any bleeding, or if you are unsure if your waters have broken.

You may have what’s called a speculum examination. This is when a small instrument covered in gel is inserted into the vagina. This allows the doctor or midwife to check if there is any cause for the bleeding, or confirm if your waters have broken. It isn’t painful but it can sometimes be uncomfortable.

You may also have an internal examination if your midwife or doctor thinks that you are in early labour.

Tell your healthcare professional if you feel any pain during an internal examination.

Read more frequently asked questions in pregnancy

Sources

NHS Choices. At the hospital or birth centre https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/hospital-birth-centre-labour/ (Page last reviewed: 15/11/2017 Next review due: 15/11/2020)

NHS Choices. Inducing labour https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/induction-labour/ (Page last reviewed: 06/11/2017 Next review due: 06/11/2020)

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    Last reviewed on December 6th, 2018. Next review date December 6th, 2021.

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    Comments

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Ludmila Buitron (not verified) on 6 Sep 2019 - 15:56

      I was 35 weeks and 6 days pregnant and the doctor was communicated me that he will check my cervix.
      I was static and couldn’t say no because I know that it’s not necessary without any contractions or being in labor.
      I felt horrible and raped, was a such a invasive procedure without any indication.
      Now I’m scared and felling violated.
      Really don’t know what to do.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Sep 2019 - 11:55

      I would suggest that you discuss this with your midwife. Consent is really important here and if you believe that you didn't consent, you should take this further. You also need to discuss how you will respond to any vaginal examinations when you are in labour, and I don't want you to be scared to consent to any other necessary procedures. You can call us here at Tommy's if you want support or want advice on how to go forward. 0800 0147 800
      Best wishes Tommy's midwives

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