Regular gynecological exams are an essential part of a preventive healthcare routine, but they can feel invasive and be a source of anxiety for teens. We have some tips on selecting the right gynecologist for your teen and how to smooth the transition into well-woman care.
It’s important that your child is a part of the selection process when choosing a healthcare provider. Your relationship with your ObGyn can be a lifelong partnership, from the teen years through prenatal care and beyond. Your child must find someone they trust and are comfortable with. Work together to identify a gynecologist that checks off all your boxes.
Would your child prefer to see the same doctor you see or choose someone new? Review healthcare providers that are accepting new patients. Is there someone your teen feels most drawn to seeing? Adolescents can choose a provider, certified nurse midwife, or nurse practitioner at Southdale ObGyn—they are all experts in helping young women feel comfortable.
We recommend that all teens be seen before graduating from high school. If your teen has no medical issues or questions, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends they have their first gynecologic visit between 13 and 15. Once they become sexually active, ACOG recommends at least one annual gynecological exam.
A pelvic exam is not always a part of the first visit. Even if the healthcare provider recommends an external or internal exam, it’s okay to ask that it happen at a follow-up appointment. The first visit can be just a discussion about common concerns.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. We recommend following your teen’s preferences. Some will want you to attend appointments, and some will prefer that you step out for the examination. Often, teens are more comfortable asking questions about hygiene and other concerns when parents are out of the room. Let your child know that their healthcare provider is a judgment-free zone—they can ask any questions without shame or embarrassment.
As your child transitions away from pediatrician visits and into preventative gynecological visits, they may not be prepared to ask questions or advocate for their own healthcare options. We believe people should have choice and voice in their healthcare—we’ve collected a great set of starter questions to help teens get started.