Stepping into the gynaecologist’s office is a nerve-racking experience for many. You do not know what to expect, and the added discomfort of having to go through a gynaecological checkup makes many patients nervous. It may seem like an alien chamber, much like a dentist’s office. There are many instruments on display, and you may not know what exactly they are used for. Knowing the most commonly used instruments in the gynaecologist’s office can help relieve some of the stress one may experience while in there. Here, we describe what they are and what their uses are.
These are the most commonly used instruments in the gynaecologist’s office, and they can be of various types. The most commonly used type during a checkup is the one that is inserted into the birth canal. This speculum is used to get a clear look inside the birth canal to view the cervix. It is usually the most frightening-looking, though using a speculum does not hurt.
The speculum consists of two bill-shaped blades that open up and stay in that position, holding open the walls of the birth canal. This type of speculum can come in different sizes and shapes, fit for different types of people. It can either be reusable or for one-time use, though it is commonly made of metal, disinfected and reused. Usually, this is the one instrument that you will become familiarized with during simple procedures such as a Pap smear.
These are used to stretch the birth canal. They can be made of plastic or metal, and they can be reusable. They usually come in a set of varying sizes, with patients starting with the smallest size and progressing to the largest. They are very useful for post-menopausal women, whose birth canals might have become narrow and painful due to hormonal changes.
Dilators are also prescribed to pregnant women to help them prepare for labour. A cervical dilator is different from the one used to stretch the birth canal. A cervical dilator is used in the gynaecologist’s office to open up your cervix for inspection or a procedure. It can either be natural, which absorbs moisture for hours and slowly open up your cervix, or mechanical, which can do it more quickly. Dilators are often used to gain access to the cervix and uterus to carry out procedures such as insertion of IUDs.
After using a dilator, your doctor may use a uterine sound. The dilator is first used to open the cervix, after which the sound may be inserted to check the depth of your cervix and uterus. Sounds are important in figuring out the shape and layout of your uterus. If it is tilted or too thin, it may be perforated during an IUD insertion, which is why it is necessary to carry out a check before any sort of procedure that involves the uterus.
There is a variety of other gynaecological instruments that can be used for different procedures, such as forceps and curettes. These are generally the less invasive ones. Knowing about these helps you communicate better with your doctor and also stops you from being taken by surprise. The importance of being prepared for your gynaecological exams cannot be stressed enough.