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 a Gardasil vaccination?
Georgia*

You might need to get a pelvic exam. It depends on your age, whether you've ever had sex, and if you're having any symptoms like belly pain, abnormal discharge, or period problems.

Doctors recommend that all girls start seeing a gynecologist between ages 13 and 15 — but a visit to the gynecologist may not involve a pelvic exam. It's up to the doctor or nurse practitioner to decide if a teen girl needs a pelvic exam based on her medical history and physical health. Everyone's different.

All girls should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) if they've ever had sex — even if they had the full series of HPV (Gardasil) shots. That's because the HPV vaccine only protects against HPV, not other STDs.

People often don't know that they have an STD, like gonorrhea or chlamydia. A gynecologic exam is the best way to find out so a girl can get treatment. So even though getting a pelvic exam may seem scary (it's not as bad as it sounds), if your doctor or nurse practitioner recommends one, you should go ahead. And always use condoms with any type of sex to help prevent STDs.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: March 2011

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