Your Daughter’s First Visit to the Gynecologist

Experts say your daughter should have her first gynecologist visit as a young teen. And now she has the opportunity to see a doctor specially trained to treat adolescents.

As your daughter reaches her teen years, she will be ready to have her first routine visit to the gynecologist. While it makes logical sense that you’d book her in to see your own doctor — even if that’s who delivered her! — there are reasons why you may want to find a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist instead.

If you saw a gynecologist when you were a teen, that physician likely treated individuals from young adults to elderly patients. Now, your daughter has the opportunity to consult with a physician who is specially trained to work with her age group. Pediatric and adolescent gynecology is a relatively new subspecialty and is gaining favor among teenagers for their first experiences with a gynecologist.

Shashwati Pradhan, MD. Pediatric & Adolescent Gynecology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, UChicago Medicine. Photo credit: UChicago Medicine

Preteens and teens won’t always seek out parental advice about sex, birth control and periods and may be susceptible to incorrect information provided by friends or social media, according to Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecologist Shashwati Pradhan, MD, and Julie Chor, MD, MPH, a Gynecologist with a strong interest in adolescent health. Both physicians are with the University of Chicago Medicine.

Help your daughter learn the truth from medical experts, especially if they aren’t comfortable chatting with you about issues regarding personal health.

“Pediatric and adolescent gynecologists have special training and experience in talking to young patients at various stages of adolescence,” says the physician team. “A trusting relationship with a gynecologist can help teens and preteens feel comfortable asking private questions.”

What happens during this first visit to the gynecologist?

Your daughter should have her first visit to the gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15. That first visit might just be to get acquainted, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. But that doesn’t mean the visit isn’t important.

You’ll want your daughter to feel comfortable asking questions, so consider this first appointment as an opportunity for her to get to know her new doctor. “It also gives the gynecologist a chance to offer important, age-appropriate patient education,” the physicians at UChicago Medicine say.

Topics they might discuss include puberty, basic hygiene, physical and emotional development and, of course, menstruation.

“A visit with a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist can help teens and preteens learn about the menstrual cycle and what is considered normal or abnormal,” Dr. Pradhan and Dr. Chor say.

You and your daughter both may feel comforted by the opportunity to ask questions about cramps or irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding.

Conversations about sex

Accurate information about sex and sexual health is critical, so let your daughter know that if she has any questions at all, she can talk with her gynecologist and expect a straightforward answer. And, it’s a conversation that will be less awkward than it might be with a parent or caregiver.

According to the experts at UChicago Medicine, a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist can talk about all aspects of sexual health, including sexually transmitted infections, birth control, even safe and healthy intimate relationships. They can also talk about gender identity and issues related to LGBTQ+ topics.

Julie Chor, MD, MPH. Pediatric & Adolescent Gynecology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, UChicago Medicine. Photo credit: UChicago Medicine

If your daughter hasn’t already been vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), her first visit to the pediatric and adolescent gynecologist may be an appropriate opportunity to receive this shot.

According to the experts at UChicago Medicine, the HPV vaccine helps protect adolescents from developing HPV, “which is known to lead to more than six types of cancer.”

While pelvic and breast exams don’t typically become routine until age 21, all the changes and questions related to puberty occur much earlier. It makes sense for your daughter to develop a strong relationship with a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist from her first visit, the physicians at UChicago Medicine say.

“Our goal is to make the experience as positive as possible, helping our patients to understand the benefits of routine wellness and preventive care at an early age.”

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