Every few weeks, Dr. Vanessa Cullins, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood® Federation of America, answers your questions here. To ask her your own question, click here.
Dear Dr. Vanessa,
I’m going to have my first pelvic exam. Can a doctor tell if you’ve had sexual intercourse?
— Stirrups Shy
Not generally. Pelvic examination doesn’t reveal if you’ve had vaginal intercourse or if you masturbate, unless there are specific signs:
- symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection such as herpes or genital warts
- the presence in the vagina of semen from a recent act of intercourse
- torn tissue from violent or rough sex
If hymeneal tissue that a clinician has previously observed appears changed, she may think that sexual intercourse has occurred, but she cannot be sure unless she is told.
Usually, the only way the clinician will know if a woman’s had sex is if the woman tells her. That’s why it’s important to tell your clinician if you are having sex. Don’t let embarrassment become a health risk. Let your clinician know what is going on with your sex life so that she can make a more informed evaluation of your health status.
— Dr. Vanessa