As girls grow into teens and young women, it is important they receive appropriate
medical care. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that young women have their first visit with an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) between the ages of 13 and 15. The thought of seeing an OB/GYN or having a pelvic exam can make a girl feel nervous, embarrassed or scared. By explaining the visit and giving her a sense of what to expect and addressing any questions or fears she may have, this will help her feel more comfortable about her first visit to a gynecologist.
For most teens and young women, the first visit usually consists of an external examination of the genitals and breasts, but not the examination of the reproductive organs, which is recommended starting at the age of 21 for healthy women. However, if the young woman is experiencing any problems with abnormal vaginal bleeding, painful periods, unusual vaginal discharge or other problems associated with her reproductive health, she may need a pelvic exam sooner.
A visit to an OB/GYN serves three main purposes. These purposes help
explain the visit more thoroughly. One main purpose is to gather accurate information and confidential answers to any questions concerning sex, sexuality, changing of the body and
menstruation. Another purpose is to learn about prevention of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STIs and STDs) and healthy lifestyles. The last purpose is to learn about treatment to girls who experience missed periods, pain or other reproductive problems. The doctor can look into why the problems are occurring and offer treatment.
When selecting a doctor, young girls and women should find someone who takes time to make them feel as comfortable as possible. They may look for someone who they may be familiar with, such as the pediatrician or family doctor, she has seen before. They may also want to choose between a male or female doctor. Whomever she chooses should be a trusted person they can be honest with and not withhold information that she is too embarrassed to share with.
Young women should be prepared to answer questions the doctor asks relating to her medical and reproductive history, like “When was your last period, and are you having any problems with it?” or “Do you think you could be pregnant?” Through this discussion, the doctor will decide which tests to run and what issues to discuss.
After their first visit to an OB/GYN, young women should discuss with their parents or other caring adults
their experience and whether or not she was comfortable with the doctor. Parents should encourage their daughters to discuss their visits and ask questions about how they felt. Once a young woman starts their visits, they should continue to go yearly to stay informed and healthy.