What Is a Premarital Exam?

What Is a Premarital Exam?

Getting ready for your wedding night can be a nerve-racking experience for anyone—especially if it will be the first time you’ve had sex.

Whether you’re postponing sexual activity for religious, cultural, or personal reasons, it’s normal to have anxiety before your first time. A “premarital exam” can help you prepare physically and emotionally.

premarital exam

What Happens During a Premarital Exam?

A premarital exam is a basic gynecological exam where you establish a relationship with your doctor before you begin having sex. Since there’s no real definition, the exam can include almost anything you’d like. But many women have the following goals:

  1. Discuss birth control options.
  2. Have antibiotics on hand in case you get a UTI.
  3. Explore getting a sterile dilator.

Discuss Birth Control Options

Not all women want to prevent pregnancy after getting married. Some will choose to try to start getting pregnant right away. But if you want to postpone or prevent pregnancy altogether, talking about birth control options before you start having sex is a good choice.

Your doctor can talk about the best birth control options for you. These may include birth control pills, an arm implant, or even an IUD.

But remember that many types of birth control don’t protect you from STIs. If you’re concerned about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or HPV, you should talk to your doctor about what you and your partner can do to prevent getting these infections.

In the US, more than 110 million adults have some type of sexually transmitted infection, and rates are higher among teens and young adults. STIs can cause lifelong health problems if left untreated. One in 156 women with HPV will develop cervical cancer and almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Some STIs can also cause infertility.

So be sure to discuss how to prevent STIs with your doctor.

Have Antibiotics On Hand In Case You Get a UTI

A urinary tract infection (or UTI) happens when bacteria around your anus travels up your urethra and into your bladder.

If you’ve never been sexually active before, you may have a higher chance of developing a bladder infection if there’s frequent sexual activity during your honeymoon. This is because bacteria like E. coli can more easily reach your urethra during vaginal intercourse.

Different types of birth control can reduce your chances of developing a UTI after sex. Research shows that women on birth control pills, for example, have a lower chance of getting UTIs than women who use condoms during intercourse.

But doctors have different views about prescribing antibiotics for an infection that hasn’t happened yet. If taken incorrectly, antibiotics can cause bacteria to build up resistance, which can hurt antibiotics’ ability to fight future infections.

If your doctor does prescribe antibiotics in case a UTI crops up during your honeymoon, be sure to follow the instructions exactly—as with all antibiotics.

Explore Getting a Sterile Dilator

A sterile dilator is a small piece of plastic that you insert into your vagina. A dilator slowly stretches the walls of your vagina so your first attempt at sex won’t be so painful or difficult. 

Many women don't want or need a dilator. It's also important to remember that for many people, the first time having sex is a happy, positive experience. But some women have deep anxiety about having sex for the first time. For these women, a dilator may help ease their stress so they'll be more relaxed before their wedding night.

If a dilator sounds like something that could reduce your anxiety, your health care provider can give you a set of dilators in different sizes to take home. You can then stretch your vagina for five to 10 minutes each day.

What Else Should You Do Before Becoming Sexually Active?

  1. Get a Pap smear if you’re over 21.
  2. Talk about any concerns you have like pain, infertility, or family history of disease. It’s never too early to start talking about this. Even before you start having sex, your doctor can help identify tests if you’re worried you can’t get pregnant or you have a higher chance of developing disease based on your family history.
  3. Make sure you’re comfortable with your doctor.

This is probably the most important part. You can get pre-wedding care from a gynecologist, a family medicine provider, or a midwife. Whoever you choose, your health provider should:

  • respect your personal wishes,
  • provide accurate health information,
  • and present a full range of options to you in a non-judgmental way.

For example, your health provider should support your personal decisions about whether to become a parent. Do you want to delay having children—or not have children at all?

Whatever you decide, your provider should respect your wishes and talk about the full range of birth control options that will help you postpone or prevent pregnancy.

Remember that it’s normal to have anxiety no matter what you do to get ready for your wedding night. Getting a premarital exam can help reduce stress so you can focus on the exciting part—starting a new, healthy life with your spouse.



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