As girls grow into teens, it’s important that they receive appropriate medical care. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that young women have their first visit with an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) between the ages of 13 and 15. It’s important to take cues from your daughter to decide when the time is right. If she is having extreme discomfort with periods, has a lot of questions, or is becoming sexually active, it is never too early to make an appointment.
The idea of seeing a gynecologist or having a pelvic exam can be intimidating for any girl. You can ease your daughter’s worries and fears by explaining why the visit is necessary, giving her an idea of what to expect and addressing any questions she might have.
Choosing a Gynecologist for Your Daughter
For a decision as significant as choosing a gynecologist, it is imperative to get input from your daughter about what type of doctor she would be most comfortable with. Would she prefer a male or female doctor? Would she like to see the same doctor as you? These are just a couple examples of questions you should ask your daughter about choosing a gynecologist for her.
Explaining the Importance of the Visit
Before your daughter’s gynecology visit, it is important to set expectations for her about what the visit entails and explain why it is necessary that your daughter begins going to the doctor on a regular basis. You should explain to your daughter why she needs to see a gynecologist and how they can help her stay healthy.
A few reasons the visit is important:
- She can get accurate information and confidential answers to questions she has concerning sex, sexuality, her changing body, and menstruation.
- She can learn how to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and how to live a healthy lifestyle.
- For girls who experience missed periods, pain, or other reproductive problems, the doctor can assess the problems and offer treatment.
Reassure your daughter that even though there are a lot of different parts of the gynecological visit, the actual physical exam, the part she might feel most nervous about, doesn’t take long.
What to Expect During the Visit
During your daughter’s first visit, there is usually no internal examination and no PAP smear obtained. According to new guidelines for women regarding PAP smears, the first screening occurs at age 21. However, there will be a breast exam and an external examination of the genital area during the first visit.
Your daughter may be asked the following questions related to her medical and reproductive history:
- 1. When was your last period?
- 2. Are you sexually active? If so, are you using protection?
- 3. Are you experiencing any problems with your period, such as pain or heavy bleeding?
- 4. Do you have any discharge, sores or discomfort in the vaginal area?
- 5. Do you think you could be pregnant?
Encourage your daughter to answer these questions honestly. Her time with the gynecologist is completely confidential. Assure her that there is nothing the doctor hasn’t heard before and they are there to help.
Brief your daughter on family history, especially if you are not going to be in the room with her. Make sure to include any important medical information about siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. One helpful way to make sure your teen remembers everything is to type up a family history for her to take into the room.
Prepare your daughter as much as possible by explaining, from your own experience, what these examinations are like. An encouraging experience can ease a young woman’s nerves and motivate her to schedule regular appointments to better manage her own health.
Please contact us if you have any questions regarding your daughter’s first gynecology visit or call Greenville Women’s Clinic at 252-757-3131.