Prevalence and correlates of pelvic examinations in sexually active female adolescents

Ambul Pediatr. 2002 May-Jun;2(3):212-7. doi: 10.1367/1539-4409(2002)002<0212:pacope>;2.


Objectives: The pelvic examination is an important component of reproductive health services for adolescent girls and is recommended for those who become sexually active. The aims of this study were to describe self-reported rates of pelvic examinations in sexually active adolescent girls and to determine factors associated with having obtained an examination.

Methods: Cross-sectional data from a national self-administered survey of nurses' adolescent daughters were used. Subjects were those girls (N = 635) who reported ever having had sexual intercourse. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to identify demographic and psychological variables, preventive health behaviors, and risk behaviors associated with having ever obtained a pelvic examination.

Results: Median subject age was 16.0 years (range 12-19 years), and 46% of subjects reported having had a pelvic examination. Variables associated with having obtained an examination were older age (odds ratio [OR] 1.29, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.09-1.53), cigarette smoking (OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.02-2.24), higher number of sexual partners (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.14-1.47), and no condom use during last sexual intercourse (OR 1.80, 95% CI 1.19-2.70).

Conclusions: Fewer than half of these sexually active adolescents had ever obtained a pelvic examination. Younger subjects who did not smoke regularly, had fewer partners, and used condoms were less likely to have obtained an examination; these adolescents may not be seeking reproductive health care services or be recognized by parents or providers as being in need of services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Coitus*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Physical Examination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk-Taking