Preparing your daughter for her first gynecologist appointment
The first visit to the gynecologist can be a very scary and confusing event for many teenage girls, but doctors say there are ways to prepare for the appointment to alleviate any anxiety.
Dr. Luther Gaston, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Advocate Medical Group in Chicago, shares a few tips for what parents can expect:
- The first visit should take place between the 13 and 15 years old.
- Little preparation is needed. Teens may be asked when their menstrual cycle began. In most cases, the doctor’s primary goal is to make sure that they are going through puberty normally.
- Parents can bring medical records if the teen has had a prior gynecological diagnosis, testing, treatment, medical or surgical issues.
- Some teens may want to ask questions about the HPV vaccine or health problems they are experiencing. A gynecologist should direct questions that focus on identifying medical, physical or emotional issues to a mental health professional.
- The gynecologist may also discuss health topics such as sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy prevention, sexual assault prevention and puberty.
When choosing a gynecologist, Dr. Gaston recommends looking for a gynecologist that listens and shows compassion and concern for the teen’s overall physical and emotional health.
“I would recommend an annual visit, without a pelvic exam or pap smear, to address any new female related concerns and to address preventive health care needs,” says Dr. Gastron. “If the patient does not have reproductive, urinary or bowel concerns, the annual pelvic exam is not recommended until age 21. Pap smears for cervical cancer screenings begin at 21 years old in average risk patients, and should be done every three years from age 21 to 29 if they are normal.”
More specifically, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teenage girls may be asked the following questions related to her medical and reproductive history:
- When was your last period?
- Are you, or have you ever been, sexually active (meaning vaginal, oral, or anal sex)? If so, are you using birth control and STD protection?
- Are you having any problems with your period, such as pain or heavy bleeding?
- Do you have any worrisome discharge, sores, itchiness or discomfort in the vaginal area?
- Do you think you could be pregnant?
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.