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Do I Need a Pelvic Exam if I Had the HPV Vaccine?

Do you still have to get pelvic exams even though you've had an HPV vaccination?
- Georgia*

You might need to get a pelvic exam, but it depends on how old you are and if you're having problems. Girls don't usually get their first pelvic exam until they are in their twenties, unless they're having problems like lower belly pain, abnormal discharge, or period trouble.

Doctors recommend that all girls start seeing a gynecologist between ages 13 and 15. For most girls, a gynecologist visit doesn't involve a pelvic exam. It's up to the doctor or nurse practitioner to decide if you need one based on your medical history and physical health. Everyone's different.

If you've ever had sex, you should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — even if you've had the full series of HPV shots. That's because the HPV vaccine only protects against HPV, not other STDs. People can have STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea without knowing it.

STD tests don't always require a pelvic exam. Depending on what test you're getting, your doctor may be able to use a urine sample, blood sample or a vaginal swab. Usually doctors only do a pelvic exam if a girl has specific symptoms that indicate a problem.

Getting a pelvic exam isn't as bad as it sounds. If your doctor or nurse practitioner recommends one, you should go ahead as it can prevent any problems from getting worse.

If you have sex, including oral or anal sex, always use condoms to help prevent STDs.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: September 2013

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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