Adolescence can be a tough time, with puberty and the stresses of school and social life to contend with. It’s not always easy to talk to your parents or teachers about your menstrual cycle and female health concerns, but when is the right time to visit your gynecologist?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), an adolescent girl should have her first gynecological consult between the ages of 13 and 15 to get advice and guidance on preventive health care and to answer any questions you may have.
Gynecological care can dispel myths and confusion
Education about the female reproductive system can be confusing, especially when it might not seem cool to ask questions when you’re in a classroom full of your peers. It’s not unusual for less formal sources of information, such as locker room conversations, to introduce new ideas about sexual health, ideas that may be exaggerated and confusing — or simply wrong.
When you do learn the basics about your periods and why they happen, whether at school or from your mother or elsewhere, there’s more to it than that, of course. For example, you’re still unlikely to know that your heavy bleeding isn’t normal and needs to treated to keep you from developing anemia.
You might be in so much pain that you’re having to take time off school and your favorite sports and social activities, but you might not have been told that using medication to regulate your hormones can lighten your period, or even stop it completely.
Your first gynecological visit is about answering any questions you may have and ensuring that you understand what’s really happening with your body because of puberty, how your reproductive system works, and what you can do to ensure good sexual health for the future.
Comfortable and individualized adolescent gynecological care is important
Because all teenagers are different, your first gynecological visit is tailored to your needs and understanding. How puberty has affected you will be different than how it affected your friends and your female family members, so personalized guidance is important immediately.
Here at New Beginnings OB-GYN, a female physician’s assistant treats you and ensures that you’re comfortable during this visit and that you understand what’s happening. Your parent or caregiver can stay in the room, but you might feel more comfortable talking about your body and menstrual cycle without them, and that’s fine.
If there are any physical examinations, we can provide a chaperone if you don’t want your mom or dad around.
Your first gynecological visit is about screening and preventive health care
Your first internal pelvic exam isn’t recommended until you’re 21, so this initial gynecological visit is about taking a personal and family medical history and carrying out any tests or screenings that may be necessary, such as hormone levels.
An external pelvic exam might be recommended, depending on your age and any concerns or questions you’ve talked about. This is a fantastic opportunity to get a good understanding of what makes up your external genitalia and how the body parts protect your sexual health.
We also take this opportunity to vaccinate you against Human papillomavirus virus, a sexually transmitted virus that can increase the risk of cervical cancer in women. It’s better to have the vaccination before you become sexually active, but you can have it at any age up to 26 if you prefer to wait.
To schedule your first gynecological consultation with us here at New Beginnings OB-GYN, give the clinic a call or request an appointment here on our website.