Reproductive Health for Teens: When Should My Daughter See a Gynecologist?

BrownAnne Brown, MD, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She is currently the medical director of the Women’s Health Service Line for Inova Loudoun Hospital. Read Dr. Brown’s Profile.

 When should your teenage daughter see a gynecologist for the first time? It’s a question I get all the time. Here’s what you and your teen need to know about making that first appointment.

  • How old should my daughter be? Experts in adolescent gynecology recommend girls have their first appointment when they’re 15 or 16 years old. If your teen is getting ready to take her driver’s test, it’s time to think about scheduling a visit.
  • What if she’s scared? Most of the time, teens are most nervous about the physical exam. We always do our best to make our patients feel comfortable during examinations. Still, most teens are relieved to learn that we often don’t do a physical exam during their first visit. In most cases, we just have a conversation about menstruation, safe sex and contraception, as well as issues including substance abuse and driving safety. We also help our teen patients learn to take personal responsibility for their own health and welfare as they mature.
  • shutterstock_151516109So when does the exam happen? Typically, we recommend women have a Pap test at age 21.
  • What else can a gynecologist do for my daughter? If your daughter has not yet received a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, we can arrange for that. In women, the vaccine protects against genital warts and cervical, vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers. We can also prescribe birth control and arrange to test for sexually transmitted diseases when necessary.
  • Isn’t she a little young for this? Like it or not, kids grow up. It’s important for adolescents to establish a doctor-patient relationship early on, so they feel comfortable accessing care in the future – with or without their parents’ help. That first appointment gives her permission and encouragement to take care of herself, now and forever.

Visit Capital Women’s Care (formerly Loudoun Physicians for Women) to schedule an appointment.

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