A teen’s first visit to the gynecologist may seem daunting or stressful, but this appointment can be surprisingly simple. As a parent, it is common to have questions about the right time for your daughter to see a gynecologist for the first time. It is important to have a conversation with you pediatrician as to when to initiate care with a gynecologist. Here are some of the basics to consider when making your teen’s first appointment.
For most teens, it’s best to see a gynecologist for the first time between the ages of 13 and 15. This is true even for patients who have not yet begun menstruating or are not sexually active. Pelvic exams are not generally necessary during this first visit, which can alleviate some of the stress of this first appointment with a gynecologist. In addition, meeting a gynecologist earlier and becoming familiar with them will help the teen patient feel more comfortable when they do need a pelvic exam.
Typically, a teen’s first appointment with their gynecologist will include a general physical exam to collect their height, weight, and blood pressure. The gynecologist will also want to review some general questions regarding their health. In some cases, a brief external genital exam is also necessary. Your teen’s gynecologist will thoroughly explain all considerations and procedures, answering any questions you or the patient may have.
Aside from any complications that may arise, your teen may not need to see a gynecologist again for several years. Your doctor will help you determine what is best for your teen’s healthcare needs.
Seeing a gynecologist in a patient’s early teen years is important to allow them to discuss topics like puberty, risk behaviors like unprotected sex, hygiene, contraception, and more. It is also an opportunity for them to learn more about sensitive topics privately with a trusted health professional. These conversations can be tailored to the patient’s specific health concerns and needs.
In addition, early gynecology appointments are a good opportunity for patients to receive the HPV vaccine. HPV is associated with most cervical cancers, and receiving the vaccine early is a key way to prevent it. Typically, gynecologists recommend that the series of vaccines is begun as early as age 11 or 12.
Typically, teens do not need to see their gynecologist often, as routine Pap smears are not necessary until age 21. However, issues can arise that will require care from a gynecologist. This includes common problems such as irregular periods, excessively heavy or painful periods, or yeast infections.
One concern that parents should look out for is delayed puberty or a delayed menstrual period. If secondary sex characteristics such as breasts or pubic hair do not develop by age 13, this can be a cause for concern. Similarly, if these characteristics are present but the patient does not have a menstrual period by 15, you should make an appointment with a gynecologist.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!