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when should i see a gynecologist

A gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in women’s health. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that a girl has her first gynecologist visit between the ages of 13 and 15 years old.

It is normal to feel nervous before your first visit. You can talk about it with a parent or someone else you trust. You can also share with your doctor that you’re nervous at the beginning of the appointment.

Are you a teen with questions about sex and pregnancy risks? Have you recently become sexually active but you don’t feel comfortable approaching anyone with your questions? Do you suspect that you might be pregnant, but you aren’t sure where to turn for help? Avenue Women’s Center offers confidential, compassionate, and nonjudgmental support to help address your questions and concerns. Reach out to us today to find out how we can assist you.

Why should I see a gynecologist?

You can learn a lot of helpful information about your body and your sexual health from a gynecologist. Some things you may discuss can include staying at a healthy weight; learning if your periods are normal and if not, why and what can be done; dealing with premenstrual syndrome (PMS); having safe and healthy relationships; knowing when a relationship is harmful; thinking things through before having sex for the first time; learning about safe sex; getting pregnancy testing; birth control options; planning ahead for a safe and healthy pregnancy; protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STIs and STDs); and how to get tested for STIs and STDs.

Talk to your doctor up front about any need for confidentiality. He or she will not share what you tell them without your consent. Doctor-patient confidentiality provides you with a safe atmosphere to address your sexual health questions and concerns. This confidentiality may only be broken in certain exceptions (such as threat of bodily harm to others, self-harm, or legally reportable situations).. You might feel embarrassed or fear judgment with certain topics, but it is vital to be honest with your gynecologist in order to receive accurate and complete care during your visit.

What can I expect during my gynecology visit?

The beginning of a gynecology exam routine involves taking information of height, weight, blood pressure, and temperature. The doctor may perform a breast exam to chec for any irregularities and teach you how to give yourself a monthly self-breast exam. You can opt to have a nurse, family member, or friend in the room with you during any part of your exam.

The external genital exam is when your doctor examines your vulva and may even give you a mirror so that you can see it, too. (The vulva is the exterior part of your genitals.) The genital exam is a good way to learn more about your body and the names of different parts and their functions.

In general, the doctor will not perform an interior pelvic exam until you are around 21 years old, unless you are sexually active or you have symptoms like pain, a discharge that is discolored, a strong vaginal odor or other signs of infection, or if you have other issues or concerns.

How can I learn more?

To learn more about what to expect during your first gynecologic visit as well as other answers to your women’s health questions, check out a few helpful resources courtesy of the ACOG:

Learning more about women’s health is important to your body’s overall well-being as you grow and develop. At Avenue Women’s Center, we recognize the importance of addressing your sexual health concerns and questions, especially when it comes to preventing an unplanned pregnancy. We provide helpful services at no charge, including pregnancy tests and option consultations. Contact us today to find out more information.


References:

  • American Medical Association. Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 3.2.1. Retrieved from: https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/confidentiality.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2017, May) Your First Gynecologic Visit Especially For Teens. Retrieved August, 2018, from: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Your-First-Gynecologic-Visit-Especially-for-Teens (

Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.

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