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

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.

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

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Related Resources
Web SitePlanned Parenthood Info for Teens This site from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has information on relationships and sexual health for teens.
Web SiteNational Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy This site provides teen pregnancy facts, resources, and prevention tips.
Web SitePlanned Parenthood Federation of America Planned Parenthood offers information on sexually transmitted diseases, birth control methods, and other issues of sexual health.
OrganizationAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) This site offers information on numerous health issues. The women's health section includes readings on pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum care, breast health, menopause, contraception, and more.
Web SiteCDC: Preteen and Teen Vaccines CDC site provides materials in English and Spanish for parents, teens, preteens, and health care providers about vaccines and the diseases they prevent.
Web SiteGYT - Get Yourself Talking and Get Yourself Tested This media campaign designed to get young people to talk with their health care providers and partners about the importance of getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
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