Tips to Help Prepare Your Daughter's First Gynecological Exam
Time flies by so fast that one day your baby girl will grow into a teenager right before your eyes. Today might be that time for some parents like you. As your daughter grows and hits puberty, it's essential that she gets the right health care.
Your daughter's first gynecological exam can be scary or embarrassing. Providing comfort and support can help ease your daughter's anxiety and create a positive first experience. Whether you're a mom or dad, here are some tips to help you choose when and where to go and provide an overview of what to expect on your daughter's first gynecological exam.
What Does a Gynecologist Do?
A gynecologist is a medical professional who specializes in the care and conditions that affect the female reproductive system. The gynecologist may physically examine your daughter's breasts and external genitalia to check for health issues that need addressing on her first visit. The gynecologist will likely spend most of the time discussing a range of topics, including:
- Breast growth
- Birth control
- Sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Body image
Should My Daughter See a Gynecologist?
Girls between 13 and 15 should start having yearly checkups focusing on the female reproductive system so gynecologists can catch minor issues before they cause serious complications. These checkups or well-woman visits provide:
- Accurate and confidential information about sex and your daughter's sexuality, her changing body and her menstrual periods
- Pregnancy and STD prevention
- Diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the female reproductive system, such as missed periods and pelvic or stomach pain
Your daughter might associate a gynecological exam or well-woman visit with health problems, so it's crucial to explain the importance of these checkups and help her feel more comfortable. Below are some of the reasons your daughter may need to see a gynecologist:
- She has not had her period
- Her periods are troublesome
- She's struggling with puberty
- She's sexually active or in a serious relationship
- She's questioning her gender identity
When Should a Girl Have Her First Pelvic Exam?
The first visit differs from one person to another. Some may require a talk with the gynecologist, but for others, the gynecologist might perform an internal pelvic exam. The recommended age for pelvic exams starts at age 21, but girls may need the pelvic exam sooner if they have heavy bleeding, painful periods or unusual vaginal discharge. During the first visit, the gynecologist may likely ask your daughter the following questions to learn about her medical history:
- When was your last period?
- Are you, or have you ever been, sexually active (meaning vaginal, oral, or anal sex)? If so, are you using birth control and STD protection?
- Are you having any problems with your period, such as pain or heavy bleeding?
- Do you have any unusual vaginal discharge, sores, itchiness or discomfort in the vaginal area?
- Do you think you could be pregnant?
When Should Your Daughter Have Her First Pap Smear?
A Pap smear is a screening test to help detect cervical cancer. Gynecologists use a small brush or spatula to open the vaginal walls to collect cells from the cervix. The Pap smear allows gynecologists to look for abnormal cells that may develop into cancerous cells over time.
Gynecologists recommend getting a Pap smear starting at age 21 and then every three years until the age of 29. However, gynecologists recommend frequent screening for women with the following:
- A history of cervical cancer
- HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
- Weakened immune system
Where to Go for a First Gynecologic Exam?
Make sure to involve your daughter in choosing the gynecologist she sees. The following questions can help you find out what type of health provider she prefers:
- Male or female? Younger or older?
- Would she like to stick with the pediatrician or family doctor she has seen before or see someone new?
- Would she like to see the same person as you, or does she prefer to confide in someone who has no connection with you?
Questions to Ask the Gynecologist
The following questions can help you choose the best healthcare provider for your family's needs. Be sure to share the answers to these questions with your daughter.
- What is your confidentiality policy?
- Are you board-certified?
- What is your approach toward discussing sexual activity?
- Do you have experience with first-time patients and teens?
- Will you see my daughter at each visit, or will she see different providers?
- Who else will be in the examining room?
Your daughter's first visit is an opportunity for your daughter to talk about complex and sensitive topics. Whatever the reason for that first visit, it sets the stage for an excellent lifelong practice for any doctor's visit and a healthy lifestyle.
Find a Gynecologist in San Antonio, Texas
Are you looking for a gynecologist in San Antonio? Let's help you navigate your daughter's journey to better health.
We offer compassionate gynecologic care for various conditions. To schedule an appointment, please fill out this form or call 833-400-9568, and we'll connect you to one of our gynecologists. If you have questions about your daughter's health or about an existing condition, we're here to help. Please don't delay care.