Taking your daughter to the gynecologist for the first time can be scary for mother and daughter, but it doesn’t have to be.
Whether she has heavy periods, painful periods, mood-altering PMS, wants to get on birth control, or her primary care doctor suggests it’s time to go, eventually your daughter will need to visit the gynecologist. Before you or she gets too worried, here’s what you need to know to get the most out of her first visit.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that girls have their first visit between 13 and 15 years old. The main purpose is to begin a meaningful conversation that will continue for years to come. “If a young woman is planning on being sexually active it would be a good idea to have a gynecologic checkup and talk about prevention from sexually transmitted infections, contraception, and birth control,” says Joanne Hasman, certified nurse midwife at Special Beginnings Birth & Women’s Center. The sooner a provider gets to know your daughter, the more comfortable she will feel going forward.
“For young girls, heavy periods and cramps are the 2 largest issues we see,” Hasman says. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that many girls share the same health concerns—like cramps and problems with menstrual periods; acne; weight; sex and sexuality; birth control; sexually transmitted infections; alcohol, drugs and smoking; and emotional ups and downs. They also tend to be interested in tips on making good lifestyle choices. As a parent it is essential that you take the time to ensure your daughter knows what to expect before her first visit to help foster this relationship with her provider.
The first visit is basically a time to find out how to best take care of your body and learn what you can expect at visits down the road. First is the physical aspect. “We listen to the heart and lungs, check the thyroid, order bloodwork as needed and if someone has an issue we discuss it like long, heavy menstrual periods that need to be managed with medication, homeopathic remedies or herbal supplements,” says Hasman.
Next up is the pelvic exam. You can explain this to your daughter beforehand, noting that the gynecologist will examine the vulva, vagina and cervix, then perhaps perform a pap smear (doctors won’t often recommend this until age 21 unless the patient is sexually active), and check internal organs with a gloved hand. The pap smear checks for abnormal changes in the cervix that could lead to cancer. “We used to tell women to get a pap smear every year but the recommendations have changed based on age and whether they have a history of HPV infection,” says Hasman.
This may be an uncomfortable conversation to have with your daughter, but the more you share with her, the better prepared she will be, and will help her form a good relationship with her doctor, and you. Here are some other tips to think about with your daughter.
Get her Input
Does she want to see a male or female doctor?
Does she want to see your doctor or someone new?
Does she want you in the room with her?
What will the Doctor Ask?
When did you start your last period?
Are you sexually active?
Could you be pregnant?
Your period particulars—Heavy flow? Pain?
Bits of Wisdom
Be honest! Your gynecologist needs to know as much about your body as you do to help you care for it properly.
Don’t worry about what your vagina
looks like. Gynecologists have seen it all, and don’t care what you look like
It may be embarrassing at first, but once you get over it, it’s great to have a good doctor in your corner to help with any problems that arise down the road.