For many young women, the thought of seeing a gynecologist for the first time can feel scary or even embarrassing, but this should be a time when your daughter feels comfortable and is able to ask questions about her developing body. We talked with Dr. Valary Gass of Women's Care of Wisconsin to provide you with the information you need to help your daughter feel more positive and less stressed out about her first gynecologist visit.
What Age Should I Schedule My Daughter's First Gynecologist Visit?"The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that girls between the ages of 13-15 visit with a gynecologist," Dr. Gass explains.
For many parents, a reasonable time to talk with your daughter about scheduling her first appointment is after her first menstrual period. The real purpose of this appointment is to establish a relationship between your daughter and her gynecologist so she can feel comfortable asking questions and learn about what changes she can expect as she develops.
Preparing For Your Daughter's First Gynecologist Visit
The most important thing you can do to help ease your daughter's nerves is talk to her. Explain to her why this visit is important and help her understand what she can expect. Having an open dialogue with your daughter will encourage her to ask questions and feel more comfortable about the experience.
It is also a good idea to have your daughter create a list of questions she may have for her gynecologist before the visit. Sometimes being nervous can cause us to be forgetful, so writing these questions down on a piece of paper will help her make sure she doesn't leave anything out.
Common topics for questions include periods, hormones, birth control, sex, and sexually transmitted infections. These are all normal topics for your daughter to have questions about. Remind her that anything discussed with her gynecologist is protected by privacy laws, so she shouldn't feel embarrassed about asking these questions.
What Your Daughter Can Expect During Her Visit"Most of the time, a girl's first gynecologist appointment does not involve a pelvic exam," Dr. Gass says, "but it should include taking a careful medical history, addressing any concerns like bad periods, and considering things like HPV vaccinations." During your daughter's first gynecologist visit, she can expect to have a general physical exam where the nurse will record her height, weight, and blood pressure. Her gynecologist may then check for common health problems and talk with her about her medical history. While her gynecologist will probably not conduct a pelvic exam during her first visit, it is likely that your daughter will have an external genital exam. During the external genital exam, your daughter's gynecologist will exam her vulva and may use a mirror to help her identify parts of her own body that she has yet to discover. The most important thing to keep in mind is that this visit is an opportunity for your daughter to speak openly with her gynecologist and ask questions.
When Is a Pelvic Exam Necessary?"The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that most women begin regular Pap smear screening at age 21," Dr. Gass says. At that point, women should continue regular screening every three years until age 30 when they can switch to having a Pap smear with HPV co-testing every five years. Your daughter most likely will not need a pelvic exam during her first gynecologist visit, unless she has expressed complaints of lumps, bumps, pelvic pain, or abnormal discharge. In these instances, her gynecologist may decide a pelvic exam is necessary.
When Should My Daughter Stop Seeing Her Pediatrician?Once your daughter is seeing a gynecologist regularly, you may wonder if she needs to continue seeing her pediatrician. This is largely up to you and depends on the specific needs your daughter has as well as her gynecologist's preference for their practice. It is perfectly normal for your daughter to continue seeing her pediatrician well into college and it can be helpful if she has a complicated medical history. Just make sure your daughter continues her annual gynecologist visit as well.
Schedule An AppointmentIf you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our providers at Women's Care of Wisconsin, please call or text us at 920.729.7105