To Moms (and Dad’s),
Leaving your trusted pediatrician and seeing an obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) is a major milestone in a teen’s life. Many pediatricians are comfortable and well-trained to see their young patients throughout adolescence and high school. If your pediatrician feels it’s time to pass the baton and send you to an OBGYN she/he can make the suggestion and give you a thoughtful referral.
First visit to with a gynecologist
It’s recommended that girls 13 to 15 years old see an OBGYN for the first time with their pediatrician’s blessing. The very first visit may be just a conversation to ease nerves and set the stage for a long term and trusted relationship.
The OBGYN will play a big role in helping an adolescent girl understand about the continuing effects that puberty has on the body, any menstrual period issues, cramps, acne, weight, healthy relationships, birth control, safe sex, sexuality, alcohol, drugs, smoking and taking control of her body and ensuring she has received the HPV vaccination.
It’s important for her not to feel nervous if you have done your homework and picked an OBGYN who sees adolescents and is known for being trusted, kind and sensitive to the concerns and medical needs of an adolescent girl. The gynecologist must feel comfortable providing reproductive health care and contraception to your adolescent, if it is needed. It’s your job to find that doctor who can be your daughters health care champion.
The good news is that the first visit may be only a conversation and/or an external examination to make sure everything is normal with her vulva. A general exam may be performed which includes checking height, weight, blood pressure, a urine sample and even a thyroid and breast exam, if she is comfortable.
What I do when I see a first-time patient
When I see a girl for her first gynecological visit, I want her to explore and get to know her body, so I will give her the opportunity to take a mirror and look at her vulva and entrance to her vagina if she is interested. If she isn’t ready to do so during the first visit, there will be many more opportunities in the future to learn about her lady parts.
An internal pelvic exam would not be performed unless she is having irregular periods, pelvic pain, vaginal discharge, vaginal itching or there is a need for testing for sexually transmitted infections. A pap smear test for cervical cancer involves an internal exam and does not start until she is 21 years old.
Your daughter should know she can bring you, a BF,F or a nurse into the room if and when she needs an examination.
Confidentiality between patient and doctor is key
Now take a deep breath…the issue of confidentiality is important for the gynecologist to convey to your daughter. She must feel as though she can speak freely and openly, one-on-one with her gynecologist, without parental repercussions.
Alone time with the gynecologist should happen. You should remember that the gynecologist will always have your daughter’s best interest in mind.
If you missed this window, now is the time to talk to your pediatrician about making the transition. This experience is a health care milestone for both you and your daughter. You can do it!