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When Should You Start Visiting A Gynecologist?

When Should You Start Visiting A Gynecologist?

As girls grow into teens, it’s important that they get the right health care. Doctors recommend yearly checkups that focus on the female reproductive system, starting between the ages of 13 and 15. Often called well-woman visits, they can catch small issues before they become big ones.

Why Is the First Gynecology Visit Important?

The thought of seeing a gynecologist or having a pelvic exam can make a girl feel nervous, embarrassed, or scared. To help your daughter feel more comfortable about it:

  • Explain why the visit is needed.
  • Help your daughter know what to expect.
  • Talk about any questions or fears she might have.

Your daughter might associate doctor visits with health problems. She may not get why she would need to go to the doctor when she feels fine

Explain that a visit provides:

Information: She’ll get accurate information and confidential answers to questions about sex, sexuality, her changing body, and her periods.

Prevention: She can learn about pregnancy prevention, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), and healthy lifestyles.

Treatment: The doctor can diagnose and treat any problems, such as missed periods, and pelvic or stomach pain.

For some teens, the first visit may just be a talk with the doctor. For others, the doctor might do a physical exam, which can include looking at the genitals. (Genitals are the sexual or reproductive organs that are on the outside of the body.)

Also, reassure your daughter that the actual physical exam doesn’t take long at all. Most girls won’t get an internal pelvic exam. These are recommended starting at age 21 for healthy women. But a girl who has problems like heavy bleeding, painful periods, or unusual vaginal discharge might need a pelvic exam sooner.

How Should We Choose a Women’s Health Care Provider?

The doctor or nurse practitioner that your daughter sees should be someone who takes the time to make her feel as comfortable as possible. You have probably made your daughter’s health choices until now, but it’s wise to involve her in this one.

Ask your daughter what type of health provider she would prefer:

Male or female? Younger or older?

Would she like to stick with the pediatrician or family doctor she has seen before (if they provide women’s health care), or see someone new?

Would she like to see the same person as you, or does she prefer to confide in someone who has no connection with you?

Then, ask around to find a doctor who best fits your family’s needs. Your pediatrician or family doctor might be able to recommend someone. If you like a specific hospital or medical office, see someone linked to it.

Asking these questions can help you choose a health care provider:

What is your confidentiality policy? (This may affect how open your daughter is during the visit. Most offices won’t share the details of the visit with a parent unless the patient says it’s OK, or if the doctor feels that the child is doing something harmful. Also, different states have different rules about confidentiality.)

  • Are you board certified?
  • What is your approach toward discussing sexual activity?
  • Do you have experience with first-time patients and teens?
  • Will you see my daughter at each visit or will she see different providers?
  • Who else will be in the examining room?

Share the answers to these questions with your daughter. And don’t hesitate to talk to a few health care providers before making a decision.

What Will the Doctor Ask About?

The doctor will talk to your daughter about her medical history. This means she’ll answer questions such as:

  • 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 unusual vaginal discharge or sores, itchiness, or discomfort in the vaginal area?
  • Do you think you could be pregnant?

Her answers can help the doctor decide which tests to run and what issues to discuss. Tell her it’s important to answer truthfully, even though she might feel uncomfortable. Remind her that the doctor or nurse has discussed these things many times before and will not share the information with anyone else.

For confidential and effective treatment, reach out to us at M Doctor’s Hub.

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