What Parents and Teens Need to Know About Early Gynecological Care
30 Jun 2023
As your child grows and develops, she undergoes a plethora of changes. This is especially evident during her teenage years when she’s expected to reach numerous emotional, physical, and social development milestones. One of the milestones that she will experience during her adolescence is her first visit to the OB/GYN.
Whether you decide to be proactive about it and take the first step or let your teen decide when to schedule an appointment, here is what both parents and teens need to know about early gynecological care.
When is the right time for a teen to make her first trip to the gynecologist?
Generally speaking, the ideal age for a teen to visit a gynecologist for the first time is when she’s between 13 and 15 years old. In cases where a girl is experiencing problems, it might be best to schedule a visit earlier than that. Otherwise, there’s no need for it. Of course, girls younger than that are welcome – it’s never too early to start teaching girls about healthy self-care and the importance of reproductive health.
In fact, this first visit to an OB/GYN specialist will set the stage for talking about their bodies and the changes they’re going through. It’ll also encourage them to address any questions they may have early on instead of waiting for a problem to arise to start dealing with it.
What to expect during the first visit to the gynecologist?
Part of being a fantastic parent to your teen is being able to talk to them openly about what they are going through. In many instances, young girls may be afraid or embarrassed to visit a gynecologist. Your job as a parent is to make sure that your teen understands the importance of these appointments and that their gynecologist is someone they can trust. It’s also important that you let your teen know what she can expect during her first visit to the gynecologist.
The idea behind this initial appointment is to build a doctor-patient relationship and get to know each other. They also serve to educate patients on things such as menstruation, personal hygiene, normal vaginal discharge, and the like. The doctor will also measure your teen’s height and weight, as well as her blood pressure. In most cases, there won’t be a pelvic exam. There’s no need for a Pap smear either – at least until she’s 21 when these tests start.
What signs are indicators to visit the gynecologist sooner?
We’ve already mentioned that a teen doesn’t need to visit a gynecologist until she’s 13 years old. However, there are instances in which scheduling a gynecologist visit is better done sooner rather than later. This is especially true in cases where a teen is experiencing problems with her reproductive health. This could be anything from abnormal vaginal discharge to pelvic pain and periods to heavy bleeding.
In such instances, an earlier gynecological health exam is a must. It can help address any concerns a teen may have regarding her periods, hormonal issues, and her reproductive health in general. What’s important is that parents talk to their teens, and that any warning signs are addressed as soon as possible.
How can a teen prepare for her first gynecological appointment?
Another important tip for parents is about helping their teen prepare for her first appointment with an OB/GYN. Talk to her about what she’ll discuss with the doctor, and reassure her that it’s completely normal to feel somewhat nervous, scared, or embarrassed about it.
Get her to write down any questions she may have so that she doesn’t forget to address them during the visit. If there’s a need for it, let her choose if she wants to have someone else with her in the doctor’s office. Finally, help her prepare for her first gyno exam by offering tips on hygiene as well as some do’s and don’ts.
How to choose a reliable gynecologist for your teen to visit?
It’s important that it is someone your teen is comfortable with. For many teens, this will mean scheduling a visit to a female gynecologist that they can trust.
You can search for providers together online, or you can have her book an appointment on her own. You can also ask friends and family for referrals, or talk to your teen’s pediatrician and check for recommendations. Finding a reliable gynecologist will ensure your teen gets a safe space to talk about any questions or concerns she has while also getting the much-needed support during adolescence.
Optimal reproductive health starts with regular gynecological visits
Making gynecological visits a part of your teen’s routine is essential. Not only is this an effective way to address any concerns early on, but also a proactive step to ensuring optimal reproductive health. Keep these tips in mind when discussing early gynecological care with your teen, and you should have no problem helping her navigate this important milestone.