Traci C Johnson, MD, FACOG
One of the most frequent questions I get from my current patients is “when should my daughter first come to see you?” The American College of Ob-Gyn actually recommends this first appointment take place in the early teen years, between ages 13-15. The purpose of this appointment is to start building a trusting relationship between the patient and her doctor or nurse practitioner. Then, if there are any future issues or concerns, she will be comfortable being seen again in the office and know what to expect. At this first appointment, the patient’s medical and family history will be reviewed in addition to her immunization status, menstrual history, as well as any tobacco/drug or alcohol use. Pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention will also be discussed. The first pap smear is not recommended until age 21, so a pelvic exam is not needed if she is not having any problems.
Instead of the introductory appointment, you or your teenager may have an issue that she would like addressed. These issues can include:
• Pelvic pain
• Irregular, painful, or heavy menses
• Abnormal vaginal discharge
• Birth control planning
• STI prevention
Depending on the concern, a pelvic exam or a pelvic ultrasound (with the ultrasound probe placed on the lower part of the belly) may be done. If a pelvic exam is needed, the doctor or nurse practitioner will make sure the patient understands what will happen and is aware that the exam will be stopped if she is having a difficult time with it. Teenagers are welcome to bring a support person with them and most do—a mother, a sister, or a friend. At some point during the visit the patient and doctor will have a discussion in private regardless of the patient’s history or concerns. This is just so the patient can have a chance to ask any questions she may find embarrassing to ask in front of anyone else. It also lets the doctor get to know the patient better and possibly ask more private questions.
Please let your ob-gyn know if you have any concerns. Hopefully this article takes some of the mystery surrounding a teenager’s first gyn visit! Dr. Johnson is a partner in Gwinnett OB/GYN Associates. She is married with 3 children. She loves caring for women in all stages of life. Gwinnett OB-GYN Associates. Visit www.gwinnettobgyn.com for more information or contact us @ 770-972-0330.