The period between 13-18 where your child’s body is going through puberty is an important time in their development. During their teenage years (or adolescence) their bodies will change in many fundamental ways, mentally and physically. And as the body’s reproductive systems mature, teens will need to have regular exams to ensure healthy development. This is especially important for girls who tend to start puberty sooner than boys.
Proper reproductive education is vital during a teen’s development into an adult. Teen patients living in Las Vegas, Nevada can depend on the care and expertise of Dr. Staci L. McHale and our staff at New Beginnings OB-GYN to help navigate this awkward and difficult time.
The importance of exams for teenage girls
During puberty, many changes are taking place in your teen’s body. For girls becoming women, this means changes like growth spurts, breast development, pubic hair, and the beginning of the menstrual cycle. These changes can start as early as eight-years-old in girls, so preparing your child is incredibly important for her physical and personal health.
Additionally, the changes in your child’s reproductive system will mean a lot of awkward conversations about sex and the importance of her sexual health. Routine exams make sure she is healthy and help her better understand what's going on inside her body.
The best time to start
Annual checkups focusing on your teen’s maturing reproductive system (well-woman exams) should start between 13-15 years of age. It’s important to press the importance of regular visits, even if nothing is wrong to stay on top of your teen’s health.
Creating an atmosphere where your teen can feel confident talking about what’s going on as she matures is important for both you and her. Often, visits can be about discussing changes and feeling safe in doing so with a specialist rather than a comprehensive exam. Being able to talk openly about your teen’s menstrual cycle, her developing sexual habits, and the importance of pregnancy and STD prevention is important as she matures into womanhood.
What to expect during a well-woman exam
Before going to her first exam, it’s important to give your teen a sense of what to expect, to help her feel safe and secure if she’s apprehensive. Also, it’s important to know whether your teen wants to have her first well-woman exam with you or alone with her specialist. Forming a bond with someone looking after her personal health is important.
Basic things like weight, height, and blood pressure will be taken to get a baseline of your daughter’s health. Screenings like breast and pelvic exams are only done when necessary and are not typical of a first exam. These and other screenings like pap smears aren’t done until she’s older.
During the exam, your daughter will be asked about things like her medical history, her menstrual cycle, and whether or not she is sexually active. Issues regarding her monthly cycle, like pain or heavy flow, can determine if something else is going on. Being able to discuss her sexual activity openly with her specialist will ensure she gets all the information she needs about her habits and whether any treatment is necessary.
Everyone develops at their body’s own pace, so the exact time your teen needs her first exam will depend on when puberty starts for her. If your daughter is ready for her first visit make an appointment with Dr. McHale and New Beginnings OB-GYN today.