Ask the Doctor: When should my daughter first visit a gynecologist?

Dr. Dinah A. Gonzalez

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Q. My daughter is 14 and getting ready to start high school. When should she have her first GYN appointment, and what can I do to prepare her? I think she will be a little nervous about it.

A. Your daughter is at an appropriate age for her first gynecological appointment. In fact, many young girls have their first appointment when they are between 13 and 15. While the experience can be a little nerve-racking for the both of you, it should really be considered an informed entry into womanhood. At our practice, we believe that a young woman’s first visit should be a positive experience. It’s a way to build a relationship and engage in conversations about safe and healthy habits.

If either of you are concerned about examinations during the first appointment, keep in mind that they are adjusted and determined based on the needs of the patient. The first appointment may just include a general physical exam with some one-on-one time for questions and answers. This includes a discussion about menstruation: the date of her last period; how long it lasts; if it is light, medium or heavy; and if she experiences cramping. Depending on the patient’s age, development and if she is sexually active, the appointment can also include a pelvic exam, breast exam, pap test or additional tests.

Many teens often want confirmation on what is normal and what to expect as far as their changing bodies, so encourage your daughter to bring her list of questions. Tell her the appointment is confidential and that you will not be present in the room unless she would like you there.

Finally, just reassure your daughter that everything will be OK. As I mentioned, doctors and midwives are sensitive to young patients’ needs and will make a special effort to explain aspects of care as well as any procedures, if needed.

–Dr. Dinah A. Gonzalez, RWJ Hamilton OB/GYN Group, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton

This content is intended to encourage a healthy lifestyle. For medical advice and treatment, see a physician.