According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a woman should have her first appointment with a gynecologist between ages 13 and 15. A teenager’s first gynecological exam typically has three objectives:
Your daughter may have questions about sex, menstruation, and physiological changes that she doesn’t feel comfortable discussing. Her appointment with a gynecologist is the perfect opportunity to request information that she won’t ask for anywhere else. The gynecologists at Arizona Associates for Women’s Health prefer to have at least a few minutes alone with a patient, as it gives minors an opportunity to tell or ask the physician something that they might not voice in front of a parent. However, these patient-to-provider sessions are not required and are only done with parental and patient consent.
The second objective is to protect your daughter from unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, unhealthy behaviors, and other potential diseases and disorders. Vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine, can be administered at your daughter’s appointment, if necessary.
Lastly, your daughter’s first gynecological exam will focus on treating any health issues that may be affecting her. This includes painful or missed periods, vaginal discomfort, lumps or cysts in the breast (though extremely rare for teens), and more.
A pelvic exam is rarely necessary at a first appointment. Pap smear testing is usually not done until around age 21.
Choosing Your Daughter’s Gynecologist
Choosing a gynecologist for your teenager is an important process that you should take your time with. For most teenagers, there’s a rather large window of opportunity for scheduling that first appointment with a gynecologist, so there should be no rush in selecting a provider. Arizona Associates for Women’s Health recommends following these guidelines in choosing your daughter’s first gynecologist:
- Select a gynecologist that is board certified by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Because board certification requires an average of 50 hours of continuing education and a self-assessment examination every year, it’s more likely that board certified physicians are up to date on the latest in medicine and standards of care.
- If your teen daughter has a particular health condition, such as pelvic pain or abnormal uterine bleeding, you may wish to choose a gynecologist that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the condition.
- Would your daughter feel more comfortable with a male or female gynecologist? Does it matter? For some patients, this is important to consider in choosing a provider.
- Ask your friends for recommendations. When credentials start to look the same, that extra bit of personality – or the trust factor – can make a big difference.
Looking for a gynecologist in Mesa or Tempe for your daughter? Meet our providers at Arizona Associates for Women’s Health. Would you like to learn more about our providers? Feel free to give us a call at 480-257-2700.