As girls become adolescents, their annual exams begin to include routine gynecologic care. Most young teens should have their first basic gynecologic exam — a modified well-woman exam that doesn’t include a pelvic exam or Pap testing — between the ages of 13 and 15, or close to the start of menstruation.
As a family medicine expert who specializes in women’s health and adolescent gynecology at Comprehensive Care Clinic in Spring, Texas, Tyneza Mitchell, FNP, understands that while a girl’s first gynecologic appointment may seem scary, it’s actually the perfect opportunity to ask questions, learn, and get to know her own body better.
Here, we discuss the timing of your daughter’s first gynecologic visit and what she can expect at her appointment.
Gynecology is specialized female reproductive care designed to meet a woman’s unique and changing health needs through various stages of life, beginning with the start of menstruation in early adolescence, continuing through the prime childbearing years of young adulthood, and extending beyond the end of female fertility (menopause) in middle age.
Menarche, or a female adolescent’s first menstrual period, typically occurs between the ages of 10 and 16. In the United States, the average age of onset for menarche is 12.4 years old.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that girls have their first gynecologic visit sometime between 13 and 15 years old. Why? Even if a young teen doesn’t have female health or period concerns, this is the time when her body is changing, and she may be starting to explore her sexuality.
If your daughter’s first period arrives at the age of 10 or 11, you can opt to schedule her first gynecologic visit a little sooner, too — especially if she has any significant issues, concerns, or questions surrounding her menstrual cycle. If your daughter hasn’t had her period by the age of 15, we still recommend a gynecologic visit to cover other facets of female adolescent health and development.
A girl’s first gynecologic appointment touches on a myriad of important topics, ranging from what constitutes a “normal” period and how to deal with painful period cramps, to good health habits and what it means to be in a consensual relationship or have safe sex.
The visit starts with an overview of your daughter’s personal and family medical history, which typically requires parent/caregiver input.
Next, we conduct a routine physical exam that includes height, weight, and blood pressure measurements as well as basic neck, heart, lung, and belly checks to assess her overall health. The physical does not include an internal pelvic exam, but it does include a clinical breast exam as well as an external visual genital check to make sure everything looks normal.
Most of this visit is about connecting your adolescent with her first gynecologic care provider and helping her get to know more about her own body and health.
As a parent or caregiver, you may stay in the room during as much of this conversation as your daughter would like, but we also like to give our young patients some private, one-on-one time in case there’s anything they’d like to ask or share that they don’t feel comfortable asking or sharing in front of you (or anyone else). We offer:
We provide accurate and thorough information for any questions or concerns a teen may have about her changing body; how the female reproductive system works; menstruation and period care; sexual activity and sexuality; and what it means to be in a healthy relationship.
We’re committed to educating young patients, so they know how to protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as well as unplanned pregnancy. We also discuss how healthy lifestyle choices support optimal long-term well-being, and offer concrete recommendations.
Many girls experience irregular, heavy periods for their first few years of menstruation. After four or five years, however, about 85% of teens have regular, normal periods. If irregular, heavy, or painful periods prevent your daughter from taking part in sports or keep her home from school every month, we can assess the problem and offer helpful treatment options.
Early gynecologic care helps adolescents understand and feel more comfortable with their own bodies; it also helps them build a supportive patient-provider relationship they can count on as they head toward adulthood.
Is it time for your daughter’s first gynecologic visit? Call Comprehensive Care Clinic in Spring, Texas, today, or use our easy online booking feature to schedule her appointment any time.