Do you still have to get pelvic exams even though you've had an HPV vaccination?
You might need to get a pelvic exam, but it depends on how old you are and if you're having problems. People 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 girls start seeing a gynecologist between ages 13 and 15. Most of the time, teen gyn visits don't involve a pelvic exam. The doctor or nurse practitioner will decide if you need one based on your medical history and physical health. Everyone's different.
If you've ever had sex, you shouldbe 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 there are specific symptoms that indicate a problem.
If your doctor or nurse practitioner recommends one, a pelvic exam can prevent any problems from getting worse.
If you have sex, including oral or anal sex, always use condoms to help prevent STDs.
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
Reviewed by: Christina M. Shultz, MD and Taina A. Trevino, MD
Date reviewed: January 2021