A trip to the doctor’s isn’t always fun, especially for kids. And a girl’s first trip to the gynecologist can be especially intimidating. Gynecology focuses on women’s health, specifically with problems or issues with the reproductive system. During the first appointment, the doctor will talk with your daughter about her health and answer any questions.
Here are some tips and information to make that appointment easier.
At what age should my daughter visit the gynecologist?
Girls should first visit the gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15, said Dr. Christopher Danielson, a gynecologist at the Banner Health Center in Queen Creek. This first visit is generally informational. Girls do not have to have an exam at her first visit, but can find out what to expect at future visits and get information about how to stay healthy.
There is no set guideline for when to seek care from a gynecologist at this age. However, concerns or problems can be addressed at any time.
What questions should you ask the gynecologist?
With this new type of doctor visit for your daughter, it might help to have some questions prepared in advance. Remember that there are no bad questions. Dr. Danielson recommends that parents and girls ask any questions they have.
What happens at your first gynecologist appointment?
For the first visit, no preparation is necessary because it is mainly informational. To help your daughter with her nerves, you can talk to her about why it is important to have regular appointments with doctors. Not all doctor visits are because your child feels ill.
Parents should tell their daughter that the doctor might ask questions about her and her family. Some of the questions could be personal such as overall health, menstrual period and sexual activity. Girls should not be worried about sharing this information because the conversation between the patient and doctor is private.
“All answers are kept confidential. This allows the provider and the patient to develop trust,” Dr. Danielson said.
Many patients seek gynecologic care for answers concerning menstrual cycles such as cramping and blood flow.
Dr. Danielson also said that an OB/GYN could also discuss any of the following:
- Alcohol, drugs, and smoking
- Birth control
- Emotional ups and downs
- Sex and sexuality
- Sexually transmitted infections
If your daughter is having any problems, she may have to have a general physical exam, external genital exam or pelvic exam. Most of the testing that teens need, however, can be done by the doctor with a urine sample, Dr. Danielson said.
Frequently, at a first appointment, teens have a lot of questions about menstruation. “They want to know how much is too much or too little. Patients may have concerns about cramping. There could also be questions about tampons, pads, cycle length and timing,” Dr. Danielson said.
How frequently should girls visit the gynecologist?
After this first visit, girls do not need to see the gynecologist again until they are 18 or after the start of sexual activity.
“All sexually active young women should have yearly testing for sexually transmitted infections. This is generally done with a urine test,” Dr. Danielson said. “However, patients may have a physical examination including a pelvic exam if there are concerns.”
Young women do not need Pap smears until they are 21 and should start to have yearly pelvic exams at that age as well.
If a patient is having problems, she may see her gynecologist at any time.