Doctors and nurses are usually pretty good at asking the right questions to help them keep you healthy. But no matter what your doctor asks, always tell them if you:
- have had vaginal sex, oral sex, or anal sex
- have had unprotected sex (sex without a condom or dental dam)
- think you might have an STD
- feel any pain, itching, or discomfort in your genitals (penis, testicles, vagina, vulva, or anus)
- have really bad cramps, PMS, or other problems with your periods
- notice any lumps in your testicles
- Feel a lump in your breast or vulva
- think you might be pregnant
- don’t feel safe in a relationship or at home
Regular check-ups with your doctor or nurse are perfect times to ask questions about puberty, periods, your body and genitals, sex, pregnancy, STDs, relationships — anything you’re curious or worried about. Doctors and nurses are experts on bodies, and they’ve seen it all. There’s no such thing as a stupid question and they aren’t there to judge you, so ask away! And if you don’t understand something your doctor or nurse is saying, ask what they mean.
Will my doctor keep my information private?
Most doctors and nurses won’t tell anybody — including your parents — what happens during your appointment. Many states have special laws that protect your right to get private sexual health care, even if you’re under 18. But laws are different in every state. And in certain places someone from the doctor’s office might contact your parent or guardian when you’re under 18. If you’re worried about privacy, call the doctor’s office or health center to ask about their privacy policies.
If you use a parent’s health insurance to pay for your doctor’s appointment, they might get a statement in the mail that says what services you got. If you’re using a parent’s or anyone else’s health insurance and don’t want them to know about your doctor’s visit, call the insurance company to find out about their privacy policies (the number is usually on the back of your insurance card). Or talk with your doctor about how to keep your visit private.
You can also check with your local Planned Parenthood health center to see if they can give you free or low cost health care, without using your parents’ insurance. And some states have special programs that help teens get their own private health insurance plan for sexual health services.
Even if you’re worried that talking to your parents about your body and sexual health will be awkward, it’s a good idea to ask for their help (as long as you feel safe). Your parents were your age once, and they know what it’s like to be a teenager. They might even be proud of you for being responsible about your health. Get more tips on talking to your parents about sex and your body.
What will my doctor ask me?
Doctors and nurses ask lots of questions so they can figure out if it’s good idea to give you certain tests, help you use birth control, or talk with you about your relationships. There’s no need to be embarrassed about answering those questions — there are no wrong answers! Here are some common questions that doctors and nurses ask during sexual health check-ups:
- Questions about your period — like when was your last period, are your periods regular, and how long do they last? Do you have spotting or bleeding between your periods?
- Do you have any pain or irritation in your genitals (penis, testicles, vulva, or vagina)?
- Have you noticed a change in your vaginal discharge?
- Are you sexually active? (Tell your doctor about any kinds of sex you’ve had — including anal, oral, and vaginal sex.)
- Have you ever had an STD, or think you have an STD?
- Are you using birth control, and what kind?
- Do you have any pain or bleeding during sex?
- Have you had any medical problems or allergies to medicines?
- Have you ever been pregnant, or do you think you might be pregnant?
- Have you ever had sex without a condom or dental dam?
- Have you ever used drugs or alcohol? If so, how often?
If you're thinking about having sex or are already having sex, your nurse or doctor may talk with you about things like birth control and protecting yourself from STDs.