One of the most frequently asked questions we often receive is, “What is the appropriate age to take my daughter to the gynecologist?”
As a girl matures and enters her teenage years, she may experience problems with her menstrual cycle, acne or become sexually active. The majority of problems and concerns can be addressed with her pediatrician or family physician. However, if your daughter or the young teen in your care has problems with her cycle that include decreased quality of life, anemia, absences from school or work, or is thinking of or has become sexually active, I advise that she establish care with a gynecologist.
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. 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.
Preparing for the Appointment
It is helpful to know the types of questions we may ask, so she can be prepared. For instance, we will always ask when her last menstrual cycle was. Although she may feel uncomfortable when we ask certain personal questions, please advise her about the importance of answering these questions truthfully.
Easing Concerns about Exams
Teens may also have concerns about exams and testing. Help reassure her by explaining that her first visit may or may not include an external examination, and that an internal pelvic exam is usually not required until a woman is 21 years of age, unless she is experiencing problems.
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.
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.