Pelvic examination is often done to screen for disease in nonpregnant, adult women who do not have symptoms. Screening means looking for a disease in people who do not have any signs or symptoms of that disease. During a pelvic examination, the patient is positioned on an examination table with her feet in stirrups. The doctor examines the external genitalia and then inserts an instrument called a speculum into the vagina to examine the vagina and cervix (speculum examination). Next, the physician places 1 hand in the patient's vagina and the other on her abdomen to feel for abnormalities in the ovaries, uterus, and other pelvic organs (bimanual examination). Sometimes, the examination includes insertion of a finger into the patient's rectum to check for abnormalities in the rectum or the space between the rectum and vagina (rectal examination). The doctor may take samples from the cervix to look for cervical cancer (Papanicolaou [Pap] smear) during the pelvic examination. However, the value of pelvic examination in women who have no symptoms and do not need a Pap smear is unclear. The potential benefits of pelvic examination include finding cancer, noncancerous masses, or infection before symptoms develop. The potential harms include the patient discomfort and inconvenience, cost, and subjecting the patient to unnecessary follow-up and treatment if abnormalities are found that would never become an issue for the patient.