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When Should My Child Have a First Gynecologist Visit?

Dec. 6, 2023 10:45 am

For many young people with a uterus, the thought of seeing a gynecologist for the first time can feel scary or even embarrassing, but this should be a time when they feel comfortable and able to ask questions about development and body changes. We talked with Dr. Valary Gass of Women's Care of Wisconsin to provide you with the information you need to help your child feel more positive and less stressed out about the first gynecologist visit.

At What Age Should I Schedule the First Gynecologist Visit?

"The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that people with uteruses between the ages of 13-15 visit with a gynecologist," Dr. Gass explains. For many parents, a reasonable time to talk about scheduling this first appointment is after the first menstrual period. The real purpose of this appointment is to establish a relationship between your child and the gynecologist so they can feel comfortable asking questions and learn about what changes to expect as time goes on.

Preparing for Your Child's First Gynecologist Visit

The most important thing you can do to help ease your child's nerves is talk about the visit. Explain why this visit is important and what can be expected. Having an open dialogue with your child will encourage questions and increase comfort about the experience.

It is also a good idea to have your child create a list of questions for the 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 make sure everything is answered.

Common topics for questions include periods, hormones, birth control, sex, and sexually transmitted infections. These are all normal topics for your child to have questions about. Remind your child that anything discussed with the gynecologist is protected by privacy laws. The gynecologist should be a safe and judgement-free space, so your child shouldn't feel embarrassed about asking questions.

What Your Child Can Expect During the Visit

"Most of the time, a child'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 child's first gynecologist visit, expect to have a general physical exam where the nurse will record height, weight, and blood pressure. The gynecologist may then check for common health problems and talk about any medical history. Listening to heart, lungs, and feeling the abdomen should be expected. Sexually active persons under age 25 should have annual gonorrhea and chlamydia screening. This can be done at the visit with a simple urine test. The gynecologist will ask about sexual activity and address any need for contraception.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this visit is an opportunity for your child to speak openly with the gynecologist and ask questions.

When Is a Pelvic Exam Necessary?

"The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that most people with a cervix begin regular Pap smear screening at age 21," Dr. Gass says. At that point, regular screening should continue every three years until age 30 when they can switch to having a Pap smear with HPV co-testing every five years. Your child most likely will not need a pelvic exam during the first gynecologist visit, unless there are complaints of lumps, bumps, pelvic pain, or abnormal discharge. In these instances, the gynecologist may decide a pelvic exam is necessary. Our office offers nitrous oxide to help patients relax during exams or procedures if needed.

When Should My Child Stop Seeing the Pediatrician?

Once your child is seeing a gynecologist regularly, you may wonder if they need to continue seeing the pediatrician. This is largely up to you and depends on the specific needs your child has as well as the gynecologist's preference for their practice. It is perfectly normal for your child to continue seeing a pediatrician into college and it can be helpful with a complicated medical history. Just make sure your child continues the annual gynecologist visit as well.

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If 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

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