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

Medically reviewed by: Christina M. Shultz, MD and Taina A. Trevino, MD

Do I still have to get pelvic exams even though I've had my HPV vaccines?

You might need to get a pelvic exam, but it depends on how old you are and if you're having problems. Young women 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 starting to see a gynecologist when you're 13–15 years old. 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. If they recommend one, a pelvic exam can help find any problems so they can be treated and not get worse.

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 (pee) sample, blood sample, or a vaginal swab. Usually doctors only do a pelvic exam if there are specific symptoms that indicate a problem.

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

Medically reviewed by: Christina M. Shultz, MD and Taina A. Trevino, MD
Date reviewed: January 2021