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When Should My Daughter Have Her First Gynecologist Visit?
Jan. 15, 2018 4:29 pm
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 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 Appointment
If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our providers at Women's Care, you can call us at 920-729-7105 or click here.
Changes To Pap Smear Screening Guidelines
Dec. 20, 2017 8:58 am
If you're like most women who dread having to get a Pap smear done at your yearly wellness check, you're in luck! Changes in the Pap smear screening guidelines now advise against annual Pap smears for the majority of women. We sat down with Dr. Valary Gass at Women's Care of Wisconsin to discuss what guidelines have changed so you know what to expect at your next gynecologist visit.
First, Let's Talk About What A Pap Smear Is
Even though Pap smears are no longer a yearly requirement, they're still important! Pap smears are
used to screen for cervical cancer in women. The test itself is used to collect cells from your cervix
and it helps your gynecologist screen for changes in your cervical cells that indicate cancer may
develop in the future. Cervical cancer is a particularly aggressive disease, so catching it early on
through Pap smear screening is crucial!
How Often Do You Actually Need To Have A Pap Smear Done?
All of the recent changes to the Pap smear screening guidelines have caused a lot of confusion
about when women should be screened, but the real answer is that it depends on the age, health,
and family history of each woman.
"The new guidelines state that women should start screening at the age of 21," Dr. Gass says,
but most women don't need to be screened every year.
"Women over the age of 21 should have a Pap smear done every 3 years," Dr. Gass explains.
"At age 30, women can continue getting a Pap smear every 3 years or they can choose to get a
Pap smear with HPV co-testing every 5 years."
For women who cringe at the thought of getting their next Pap smear done, these new guidelines
are great, but it's important to remember that your health and family history are also factors when
it comes to determining how often you should be screened.
If you have had an abnormal Pap smear in the past, have a history of cervical cancer, are HIV+,
have a weakened immune system, or if you were exposed to diethylstibestrol (a synthetic form of
estrogen) in utero, you may need to be screened more frequently.
Dr. Gass also points out that women should not stop screening unless advised by their doctor.
"If you have questions about when you should be screened, how often you should be screened or
when you should stop screening, please have a frank conversation with your doctor," Dr. Gass
Keep Seeing Your Gynecologist Annually -- Even If You Don't Need A Pap Smear
Just because you get to skip your Pap smear this year doesn't mean you should skip your annual
wellness check too! For many women, their gynecologist is the only doctor they see each year.
Your annual wellness check is an opportunity to go over more than just your cervical cells -- plus,
it's covered by the Affordable Care Act! So do your body a favor and don't skip your annual
Schedule An Appointment
If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our providers at Women's Care, you can
call us at 920-729-7105 or click here. -