When You Should Take Your Teenager to See an OB-GYN
It is fairly common for women to see their gynecologist once every year. But when should that first visit be? When should teenagers see a gynecologist for the first time?
The first is if her periods are too far apart, too close together, too heavy, or are painful. Dr. Wurzbacher also recommends that a teenager see a gynecologist if she hasn’t begun menstruating by age 16, or if by age 16 is not meeting other puberty milestones, such as getting pubic hair.
Other reasons to bring a teenager to a gynecologist are for hormonal acne treatments, if the parent thinks that their teenager is sexually active, if she is referred from pediatrics or dermatology, or if she is having trouble with tampons, as sometimes anatomical tissue can affect insertion and removal, said Dr. Wurzbacher.
However, one of the most important reasons to take a teenager to a gynecologist is if she asks to go. “If they express an interest in coming, take them!” said Dr. Wurzbacher. “Even if they aren’t specific with you, they may be specific with a doctor, so please bring them.” Dr. Wurzbacher also said that the teen should be accompanied by her mother or another adult female who she is close with.
Dr. Wurzbacher also said that if a teenager hasn’t had a reason to see a gynecologist before she finishes high school, she should see one by the time she is 18 in order to establish a care relationship before leaving for college or whatever step is next in her life.
The appointment for a teenager will look slightly different than that for an adult woman, said Dr. Wurzbacher. Unless there is a reason for a physical exam, breast exams will not be performed until age 19, and pelvic exams will not be performed until age 21. Screening for sexually-transmitted infections can be done via urine, if necessary.
Establishing care with a provider is a big step for a teenager. But, beginning that relationship can help her with life-long healthy habits and confidence.