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I’m 18, and highly afraid to go to my first pelvic exam, can I chose if my boyfriend can come in with me?

Unless you have a medical problem (like pelvic pain or irregular bleeding), a pelvic exam may be unnecessary until you need your first Pap test. You don’t need to get your first Pap test  — which requires a pelvic exam  — until you’ve been sexually active and have turned 21. In our parents’ generation, doctors thought pelvic exams with Pap tests were needed much more often, but it’s not true today.

Some doctors still require pelvic exams in order to prescribe birth control. In most cases, Planned Parenthood does not. And some do pelvic exams to test for sexually transmitted infections.

It’s a good idea to have a gyn visit with your health care provider before you need a Pap test or birth control. But those checkups are just to make sure you’re healthy, and they may not include a pelvic exam — although some doctors still think they are necessary.

Whenever you do have your first pelvic exam, it’s okay to feel a little nervous or freaked out. You can call your doctor ahead of time to find out if your boyfriend (or anybody else) can accompany you. For a number of reasons, however, it’s unlikely that he’ll be allowed to be with you.

It might make you feel a little better to read up on what a pelvic exam consists of and what it will probably feel like. Click here to learn about pelvic exams and what to expect. Some parts of the exam might be a little uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful. If you get there and still feel freaked out, tell your health care provider — she or he might be able to adjust things to help you feel more comfortable. You might also feel less tense if you breathe slowly and deeply, relax your shoulders and the muscles between your legs, and ask your health care provider to describe what’s going on.

Tags: going to the doctor, gynecologist, pelvic exam