Can a doctor tell during a pelvic exam if you've had sex?
Krista*

Most of the time, a doctor can't tell if a girl has had sex just from a pelvic exam (and doctors don't usually give teen girls pelvic exams unless there's a sign of a problem).

But you should let your doctor know if you've had sex anyway. Why? Having sex puts a person at risk for STDs as well as unplanned pregnancy. When you tell your doctor or nurse practitioner you've had sex, he or she can look out for signs of infection. Treating STDs early is important not just for your health, but also for the health of your partner. An STD that's not treated could cause scarring of the reproductive organs and might lead to infertility (inability to have a baby) in men and women.

Even if you don't think you have an STD, only a doctor can tell for sure. Many people do not have signs or symptoms of an STD, but the STD can still cause problems later on. Doctors can test for STDs easily and quickly, usually by taking a sample of pee, blood, or vaginal mucus (quickly wiping a cotton swab just inside the vagina).

Nurses and doctors can also give you advice about protecting yourself against STDs and unwanted pregnancy, such as using condoms every time you have sex.

You may feel nervous talking to your doctor about sex. But your doc can be one of the best resources you have. Gynecologists, family practitioners, pediatricians, nurse practitioners, and adolescent medicine specialists deal with questions about sex every day, so don't be embarrassed to ask them anything. Their goal is for you to stay healthy.

If you're worried that your parents will find out, just tell your doctor about your concerns. What you discuss with your doctor about sex can stay between the two of you.

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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