Gynecology, Preventive Care
For many teens, attending their first OB/GYN visit can be a daunting task. It’s normal to have questions and even feel a bit awkward or nervous. As a parent, you can help your daughter to feel prepared and confident by creating an open dialogue, explaining the importance of the visit, and addressing any questions or fears she may have. To help you prepare for that conversation, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions and broken down what to expect throughout that first visit.
Generally, adolescent women should have their first visit with a gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15. This visit is intended to promote health, to educate, and to assist in the prevention of health problems common to teenagers. In terms of exact timing, you may also want to schedule the appointment for the week after her period, to ensure she is most comfortable.
Our providers may discuss normal puberty development, review menstrual cycle problems, educate about vaccines, and review healthy eating and exercise. In addition, they can provide information on pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections and offer advice for prevention including birth control and safe-sex practices.
No, most girls do not need a pelvic examination at this age. The current recommendation for a first pelvic examination and Pap smear is age 21. However, if you want to educate your daughter early you can explain the pelvic exam in three parts:
It’s important to reassure your daughter that her menstrual cycle is a normal part of life. However, in certain cases, there can be issues with menstruation that a provider needs to review. For example, periods that are too close together, too prolonged, or too heavy can result in anemia or low iron levels. Menses can also be extremely painful and associated with severe nausea, vomiting, or headaches. If a teen is missing school, sports, or activities because of her period, she should be seen by her healthcare provider to address these issues.
Even if your daughter is not sexually active, it’s never too early to start educating on the importance of safe sex. As part of the birth control discussion, our providers will cover everything including talking about abstaining from sex, using condoms, and providing contraception. Overall, there are four primary methods of birth control available: barrier methods (i.e., condoms and diaphragms), combination hormonal contraception, progesterone-only systemic contraception, and intrauterine devices. With so many options available, you can rest assured that our providers would be happy to walk your daughter and you through the pros and cons of each!
Our providers are prepared to answer any questions related to STIs. STIs are transmitted through sexual contact. Because most STIs have no symptoms, knowing if you have been infected can be difficult. We offer safe and confidential STI testing and treatment.
Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, our care centers are limiting the number of visitors in-office in order to help reduce the spread of the virus. It’s best to call your care center prior to the visit to confirm the latest policies. Either way, you may want to discuss with your daughter her preferred level of privacy, as she may be more comfortable discussing sensitive topics in private with her provider.
Following Up After Your Daughter’s First OB/GYN Visit
Your daughter’s first visit to the gynecologist is an important step in building a foundation for good health throughout her lifetime. After the exam is finished, you may want to talk to your daughter about her experience, allowing her to share as much or as little detail as she feels comfortable communicating.
Moving forward, yearly visits can help her to grow a strong relationship with her provider, feel confident asking questions, and empower her to become an advocate for her own health!
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