A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

When should your teen daughter schedule her first gynecologist appointment?

Two female friends talking at a coffee shop

Helping your teen daughter transition to womanhood is a powerful part of being a parent. While the first gynecologist appointment may be intimidating, there are ways to help.

Helping your teenage daughter transition to womanhood is a powerful part of being a parent. You get to guide her into developing healthy habits that will serve her well for a lifetime. And while the first gynecologist appointment might be one of the more intimidating steps, there are simple ways to make the experience smooth and comfortable.

In this article, we’ll cover these key areas to help parents and their teens with the first gynecologist visit:

  • The right time to make an appointment
  • What to expect at the first visit
  • How to prepare

Keep reading for useful tips you can use to transition your daughter from pediatrics to gynecologic care.

The right time to make an appointment

The first gynecologist appointment will usually be around the same time as the beginning of menstruation, so most providers recommend ages 13-15. It’s equally important to see a women’s healthcare provider if a girl’s period hasn’t started by age 15.

As we’ll explain below, visits for younger teens aren’t just about physical exams. The other reason the first visit is important is so teens can start developing a relationship with a trusted women’s health provider. This connection is extremely valuable because it can help her feel more comfortable and confident about having somewhere to go if a problem or question does arise in the future: what’s this lump? Is what I’m feeling normal? Should I start birth control?

What to expect the first time

In many cases, the very first gynecologist appointment will just be a conversation. This one-on-one time is a chance for your teen to chat with her new women’s health provider, ask questions, fill in information about personal and family history, and get a sense of what to expect at future visits. Her provider can also help educate about important topics like her changing body, menstrual cycle, hygiene, disease prevention, and more.

There may also be a general physical exam, similar to ones your daughter has had before at her pediatrician’s office. The difference is that this time, the physical will usually include a breast exam and examination of the external genital anatomy—but in the vast majority of cases, full pelvic exams aren’t necessary until the age of 21.

How to prepare

While it’s reasonable to be a little nervous before the first gynecologist appointment, there’s nothing to worry about! Preparing your daughter with these tips will help the visit go smoothly.

  • Be honest – One vital thing for a teen to know beforehand is that being honest with her women’s healthcare provider is important. They will ask questions about topics like alcohol or drug use, sexual activity, and other things that teens tend to feel a bit awkward and secretive about. If you’re a parent, emphasize that the gynecologist’s office is a judgment-free zone to help her feel comfortable sharing. Accurate lifestyle and health information helps ensure the providers make the right health recommendations for your daughter. You can ask her if she’d like you to come in the exam room for the appointment, but even if she says yes, you may consider giving her some time to talk with the provider on her own. Passing on these tips on discussing sensitive topics with your doctor or provider can also help.
  • Relax – Teens may feel more at ease knowing that a full pelvic exam is uncommon the first time. If the provider does decide to do an internal exam, you can reassure your daughter that this isn’t painful and it helps to take deep breaths and relax the muscles.
  • Pay attention to your body – It is useful for a teen to pay attention to things like their menstrual cycle and vaginal discharge for a month or two before the appointment, so the provider will be able to tell if there’s anything unusual and can recommend treatment. For example, if cramps are so painful that she needs to stay home from school, or she soaks through several pads or tampons per hour, those are things to bring up.

Our gynecology services are focused on compassion, expertise, and comfort. When you contact us to schedule your daughter’s first gynecologist appointment, you can rest easy knowing that she’ll be in good hands. Request an appointment online or call 920.885.6090 today.

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