The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that a girl first see a gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15, once her menstrual cycle has begun. If a parent is interested in their daughter receiving the HPV vaccine, then an earlier visit is recommended.
It is especially vital for a young woman to see a gynecologist if she:
- Has any concerns or questions about pain or discomfort in her vagina, lower abdomen, or when she urinates
- Has a vaginal discharge or odor
- Is concerned that she might have a STD (or that her partner might have one)
- Has periods that are very irregular — even after the first year or two — or if they are overly long or painful
When we see a teenager for her first gynecologic examination, we are most concerned with her comfort and her trust. We want her visit to be enlightening and relaxed. A pelvic examination during the first year may not be necessary.
We talk about how she feels as she becomes a woman, about her overall health, about any concerns she has, and about her sexuality and any sexual activity she has had or is planning to have. We answer her questions and help her to feel cared for and understood. Such open discussion also helps us to know if a pelvic exam is necessary.
We find that young patients actually look forward to our annual discussions. That is so important, because yearly visits to a gynecologist are so essential to a woman’s physical and emotional health.