First Gynecological Visit
Many parents are nervous about taking their daughter to a gynecologist for the first time.
Common questions include - Do I wait for her first period? or do I wait until she is sexually active? and Will my daughter need a pelvic exam and a pap smear?
Some women dread their own appointments and worry their daughters will have a similar experience.
If you find the right physician for your daughter, this can be a very positive experience.
The gynecologist can offer reassurance and answer questions she may have about: physical development, puberty, menstruation, cramping and sex.
Your daughter should generally have her first gynecology visit somewhere between the age of 13 and 15.
The first visit is typically just a conversation, with an emphasis on education.
The physician should take a complete history.
The gynecologist should establish a relationship with your daughter, build trust and allow her to feel comfortable asking questions about her developing body, body image, self-confidence, weight management, immunizations (including the human papillomavirus vaccine), contraception, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
It is also an opportunity to dispel myths and fears.
This initial visit doesn’t have to include a pelvic exam and Pap smear, which most girls do not need before they are 21 (even if they are sexually active).
A Pap smear and a visit to the gynecologist are not synonymous — something only some of my patients seem to understand..
This is also the time to consider the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine, which significantly lowers the risk of getting HPV, genital warts and cervical cancer.
Vaccination should ideally be before sexual activity since the vaccine is much more effective if a girl has not been exposed to the virus.
It is also important to recognize that many adolescent girls that have not been to a gynecologist are already sexually active.
The longer a girl waits to see a gynecologist, the more likely she is to end up with a sexually transmitted disease or a pregnancy.
Many teenagers dismiss the risk of pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases, thinking that “it won’t happen to me.” Up to 50% of females aged 15–19 years say their parents never talked to them about contraception, STIs, or “how to say no to sex.”
Having a conversation with a physician has been shown to delay becoming sexually active and increasing use of birth control.
As a girl develops both physically and emotionally she will begin to have questions about her sexual health and development.
Adolescence is a very difficult time for many.
The body undergoes significant changes and the social pressures of this age group are enormous.
It is important to begin understanding your body at this age.
Her relationship formed with a gynecologist can be helpful in addressing special concerns of pain, sexuality, birth control, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
It is very beneficial for her to have a relationship with a physician that she can ask questions and receive appropriate information in a confidential environment.
If not, she is more likely to “learn” from her friends and what she finds on the internet.
Dr. Kesselmans Bottom Line: A young woman should visit a gynecologist in her early to mid-teens, not for a Pap smear but to check that her development is normal and to get crucial information about her reproductive health.
The goal of these visits is to bridge the difficult waters of puberty into adulthood as smoothly as possible by providing sound advice for teens to make smart decisions.