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? Don’t worry, it isn’t necessarily for a pelvic exam. What is a pap smear?
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.
Seeing a gynecologist in your teenage years provides opportunities to talk about:
- Overall health: From good habits for building healthy bones to managing weight, a gynecologist can offer different insights than your primary provider.
- Periods: Normal periods? Heavy periods? No period? Meeting with your gynecologist means you get expert advice on your menstrual cycle (because everyone’s is different!).
- 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.
- Pregnancy: 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.