When do I get my first pelvic exam? I’m going to the doctor soon and I don’t want to find out there.

Smiling doctor talking to her patient in an office at the hospitalThis depends on whether you are going to see your doctor because you are having vaginal discharge, or unexplained belly pain, or whether it is simply a check-up. Most health care providers agree that you should have your first exam if you have symptoms such as vaginal discharge or pain, or when you turn 21, whichever comes first. There are other important reasons that you may need a pelvic exam.

These may include:

  • Unexplained pain in your lower belly or around the pelvic area, where your vagina is
  • Vaginal discharge or wetness on your underwear that causes itching , burns or smells bad, especially if you’ve had sex
  • No menstrual periods by age 15 or earlier if you are 3 years after you started breast development
  • Vaginal bleeding that lasts more than 10 days
  • Missed periods, especially if you are having sex
  • Menstrual cramps so bad that you miss school

Remember, it doesn’t matter how old you are or if you are sexually active, if you have any of the symptoms listed above, you should make an appointment with your health care provider or gynecologist.