At Southdale ObGyn, the providers are often asked: “When should my teenage daughter come in for her first gynecologic exam?” It’s a question we love to hear because we consider it a privilege to care for our patients’ loved ones. Our goal is to make your daughter’s first visit as stress-free, reassuring, and informative as possible!
Our answer to the question depends on each young woman’s individual circumstances, but the following are general guidelines for teenage and young adult gynecologic wellness care.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that a young woman visit a gynecologist for the first time in her mid-teens. Our group encourages all teenage girls to be seen before they graduate from high school. If sexual activity begins before then, or if any problems are present (such as painful cramps, PMS, vaginal discharge, itching, painful urination, pelvic injury, etc.), an earlier visit is called for.
Physician, nurse practitioner, or midwife?
All of the physicians at Southdale ObGyn enjoy caring for adolescent patients, but our certified nurse midwives and nurse practitioners are a great choice, too. Each NP has specific training in prevention and wellness, and they’re expert at helping young women feel comfortable and at ease when discussing important but potentially embarrassing subjects such as sexuality, hygiene, and avoiding risky behaviors.
Preparing for the first visit
- Encourage your teenager to write down her questions or concerns ahead of time, so she’s sure to share them with the doctor or nurse practitioner. Referring to a list is a great way to stay focused during a first visit — which can be distracting and even a bit overwhelming.
- Tell your daughter that the information she shares will be confidential. Also, discuss ahead of time if she would like you or another female adult to be present during her first exam.
- Do some research beforehand. You and your daughter may find the following link helpful:
What to expect during the first visit
If your daughter has no problems or concerns, and if she’s not yet sexually active, her first visit may be as simple as a conversation. The doctor or NP will most likely discuss your daughter’s periods, certain vaccinations (particularly the vaccine for HPV, the human papilloma virus), the importance of contraception and safe sex, and any other common adolescent concerns such as maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep and exercise, acne, and the normalcy of emotional ups-and-downs.
Future wellness visits
If your daughter is not sexually active her second wellness visit can occur at age 20 or 21. This time, she’ll probably have a full pelvic exam, Pap smear, and breast exam. This is the ideal time for her to begin monthly breast self-exams. Although breast cancer is very rare in young woman, any lump or discharge should be immediately evaluated.
If you have any questions about your daughter’s first visit, please don’t hesitate to call us! Your daughter’s first gynecologic visit is an important milestone, and we look forward to becoming her trusted partner in a lifelong commitment to health and wellness.
Dr. Liz Crandall