Puberty is an awkward phase in life that includes a number of hormonal, emotional, and physical changes as children become adults. And while both sexes undergo a lot of changes over these years, girls experience changes such as menstruation sooner as their bodies reach reproductive years.
To support your teen through this period, keep open lines of communication when these changes start and book a gynecological exam with a doctor. The first exam can be awkward and nerve-wracking. As the 2021 Gold Best Women's Clinic, Dr. Staci McHale and New Beginnings OB-GYN are here to help families in the Las Vegas, Nevada area.
Changes that happen during puberty
Between the ages of 8-13, your teen’s body starts releasing hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, leading to physical changes. Your child may experience growth spurts, develop genital hair, and develop breasts.
Within a year after puberty starts, more body hair grows and skin becomes oilier, which can lead to common issues with acne. Menstrual cycles often start around age 12 (depending on family history), and by 16 they reach adult height and physical maturity.
When should you go for your first exam?
Also referred to as a well-woman visit, teens should start coming for exams between 13-15 years old. Being nervous, embarrassed, or apprehensive is entirely normal and understandable, so discussing expectations beforehand can help a great deal to relieve any anxieties.
They should understand the importance of the exam, and feel open to asking questions. Before the exam starts, we listen to any concerns they have and ask them questions about their current health and any sexual history,
What does the exam cover?
The procedure consists of a general physical and external genital exam. We check your teen’s height, weight, heart rate, and blood pressure to establish baselines to compare against future figures. This can also help to diagnose any pertinent health conditions they may already have. Their breasts are examined for abnormalities like lumps or cysts.
An external examination of the genitals (the vulva) is done to check for sores, swelling or anything else unusual. If necessary, we can test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or other conditions. We may conduct a pap smear, but they usually start at age 21.
Your teen’s first exam is an essential part of their journey to becoming a woman. We work hard to make it as pleasant and comfortable of a transition as possible. If it’s time for your teen’s first examination, make an appointment today.