As our bodies change through puberty it can be both exciting and overwhelming.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that girls first see a gynecologist when they’re between the ages of 13 and 15. Why so young? Many gynecologists will do a regular health exam and talk to you about your development. These conversations are vital to teenage girls (like you!) for developing healthy habits and making safe choices in your teen years. Don’t worry, gynecologists offer a wide range of support for girls beyond pap smears and pelvic exams (which is what most people think of when they hear “gynecologist appointment”).
Seeing a gynecologist in your teenage years provides opportunities to talk about:
From good habits for building healthy bones to managing weight, a gynecologist can offer different insights than your primary provider. As your body adjusts to the changes of puberty, your gynecologist has experience dealing with the changes specific to being a female. They can offer insight into bodily changes, starting menstruation, becoming sexually active, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and general vaginal health practices.
Normal periods? Heavy periods? No period? Meeting with your gynecologist means you get expert advice on your menstrual cycle (because everyone’s is different!). Gynecologists can offer insight into the truths of getting your period and how to care for yourself after you’ve started your cycle such as combating cramps, best tampon practices and more. Every girl is different and so is the best period product choice for her.
Sexuality and relationships
For girls who may not feel comfortable confiding in their parents about sexuality and relationships (yet) a gynecologist can be a safe and trustworthy confidant. For many teenage girls, navigating sexuality and relationships with their parents is not easy, but gynecologists can help with critical, yet sometimes uncomfortable conversations around a teen’s first significant other or losing one’s virginity.
There is also the question of starting birth control, and your gynecologist can provide multiple options that offer different benefits. Whether you want to start birth control for pregnancy prevention or period control, talking with your provider can offer insight to different types such as intrauterine devices (IUDs), Nexplanon and more.
The teenage years usher in a lot of firsts, and the first-time having sex may be one of them. And, it’s important that you’re prepared. A gynecologist can educate you on birth control options, the importance of safe sex, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), and more.
In general, seeing a gynecologist in your teen years helps you establish an in-tune, knowledgeable, and healthy relationship with yourself and those around you. For a full list of 21 reasons to see a gynecologist before you turn 21, check out this infographic from ACOG.