As a girl matures and enters puberty, it's important to have her first gynecology appointment. However, the thought of going to a gynecologist for the first time may make her feel nervous, embarrassed or even frightened if she doesn’t know what to expect. Additionally, she may not understand why she needs to go, especially if she is feeling fine.
As a parent or guardian, you can make a significant difference in how she approaches her health and care, not only now, but in the years to come. Begin this process by easing any concerns she may have and talk to her before her visit so she understands why the appointment is necessary and what to expect. Be sure to give her time to ask you questions as well.
The Purpose for the Appointment
Make sure your daughter or the young teen in your care knows that the primary focus of the appointment will be to share information. She can ask general health questions or ask about things that may feel more confidential, such as how her body is developing or how to prevent pregnancy and avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Also, let her know that although she may not have questions now, she may in the future, so it is important to have yearly appointments so she can get to know her gynecologist.
After the appointment, your daughter should feel reassured and know she has a trusted care provider who can help her stay healthy, and, if she is having problems, get her the treatment she needs.
Preparing for the Appointment
It may be helpful for your daughter or the young teen in your care to know the types of questions we may ask, so she can be prepared. Examples of questions include:
- Are you having any problems with your period, or have you had any itchiness, discharge, sores or discomfort in your vaginal area?
- When did you have your last period?
- Have you been sexually active? (This includes oral and anal sex, in addition to vaginal.)
- If you are sexually active, are you using birth control to protect against unwanted pregnancy as well as and sexually transmitted infections or diseases?
- Do you think you could be pregnant?
Talk to your daughter about the importance of answering these questions truthfully, even though she might feel uncomfortable. For example, if she is at risk for STIs or STDs, she needs to let her physician know so they can order a test or tests to determine if she has one.
Give Her the Option to Have You in the Room
You daughter or the young teen in your care should also decide beforehand whether or not she would like you to join her in the exam room. Whatever she decides, be supportive, and make sure she also has some time alone with her care provider so she has an opportunity to share any information she may be too embarrassed to reveal with you in the room.
Additionally, this private time with her gynecologist will help her gain confidence and allow her to recognize the doctor as a helpful, objective, caring and knowledgeable person she can trust to discuss any health concerns she may have in the future.
Easing Concerns about Exams
Your daughter may also have concerns about exams and testing. Help reassure her by sharing this information:
About the Pelvic Exam
- Her first visit may or may not include an external examination of the genital area
- A pelvic (internal) exam is usually not required until a woman is 21, unless she is experiencing problems such as painful periods, abnormal vaginal bleeding or unusual vaginal secretions
- If she does need a pelvic exam, it may be slightly uncomfortable, but it is not painful
- A pelvic exam usually takes less than one minute
About the Breast Exam
- Breast cancer is very rare in teens, but it is still important for the gynecologist to perform a breast exam
- The breast exam will ensure that she is developing normally
- Breast exams allow the gynecologist to detect any lumps or cysts
- This exam usually takes less than a minute and is not painful
About STD Testing
- Some STDs testing only requires blood or urine samples
- Other STD tests require the gynecologist to perform a pelvic exam and use a cotton swab to obtain a sample, like during a pap smear
About Pregnancy Testing
- We are here to get you the care you need
- If you are pregnant, we want to support you in the ways that are best for you
Contraception Counseling and Services for Teens
We recommend that teens postpone sexual activity until they are fully prepared to manage the potential consequences, such as pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. At the same time, we recognize that some young women will be sexually active and therefore they should know what contraception is available and how to use it in order to prevent unwanted consequences.
Contraception counseling is important, and helps protect your daughter and significantly reduces the risk of an unplanned pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases. Counseling can also help your daughter deal with other issues surrounding sexual activity, such as peer pressure, confusion or conflicts and make her own decisions, which may include postponing sexual activity.
Our physicians are here to help and want you and your daughter to have a positive experience when you visit us, whether it is your first appointment, or if you have seen us many times. Encourage your daughter or the young teen in your care to explore our website and learn more about the care and services our physicians provide. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.