Memories are a funny thing. They can be fussy and distorted. Here’s what I remember, from the time I started my period they were heavy and painful. My mom decided to take me to her gynecologist in Houston at age 14. I remember being so uncomfortable and embarrassed I laughed during the exam. That awkward forced laugh as this middle age man examined me! I had NO idea what to expect leading up to the exam. I was mortified!
Here is a heads up, so that you feel better prepared if it’s your first visit or you’re a mom hoping your daughter has a good first experience.
The typical recommendation is between age 13-15 years.
Do you have to see the gynecologist this early if you aren’t having any problems or concerns? No. Often, I don’t see teenagers until there is a problem or they become sexually active.
A few things you should know:
1. A pelvic exam doesn’t have to be done unless there is a problem. The first visit may just be a talk with the doctor.
2. It is a great preventative visit you to get solid information. Get answers to questions about cramps, acne, weight, alcohol, drugs, smoking, sex, emotional ups and downs, birth control, and/or sexually transmitted infections. The OBGYN is a great resource to ask all these questions.
3. A virginity test does not exist.
4. The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine PREVENTS cancer – cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, rectum, esophagus, penis. I do recommend it. The target age is 11-12 years for boys and girls, but can be given later. It is safe. All my kids will receive it.
5. It is important to a teenager to know that she has a relationship with her doctor and a safe place to talk. Be okay with waiting in the waiting room and giving her some space. Let her hear it from a trained professional.