Parents are faced with a plethora of questions and decisions as their children get older and inevitably change — especially when it comes to their kids’ health and well-being. For those parents of developing adolescents, many may be wondering when it is appropriate to bring their daughters to the OB/GYN for the first time. It can feel like a big decision, especially for the parents of children who have had the same pediatrician since birth.
While every family is different, what we at Beaches OBGYN can do — as many of our doctors are parents themselves! — is offer our professional opinion regarding this important question.
There are many reasons why a teenager or young woman might want to start seeing an OB/GYN. Most girls in the United States get their first menstrual cycle between the ages of 12 and 14, though some can start earlier or later. Common signs that her period is on its way include breast development and the occurrence of vaginal discharge. Because every body is unique, it is important to have ongoing conversations with your daughter about reproductive health and the changes happening in her body.
A common time for teens to start seeing an OB/GYN is between the ages of 13 and 15. This first visit can serve as an opportunity to be proactive and develop a relationship with a gynecologist, in order for your daughter to be comfortable discussing her health and personal information with her doctor in the future. There also may be some questions or concerns that can be addressed during the appointment, including:
- She has not gotten her period. If your teen hasn’t gotten her first period by age 15, it may be good to check with an OB/GYN, who can explore any potential underlying issues.
- Her period is troublesome, beyond the norm. Every woman knows that a “normal” period can vary, but if her period is especially painful, heavy, or irregular, an OB/GYN can help address these concerns.
- She is struggling with other issues related to puberty. Puberty concerns such as heavy acne or unwanted hair growth can also be addressed — or even simply serve as an opportunity to be reassured that these are typical signs of development.
- She is in a serious relationship or is becoming sexually active. Sex and relationships are an inevitable part of growing up, and an OB/GYN can serve as a neutral party with whom to explore these topics — from choosing birth control to preventing sexually transmitted infections to understanding what makes a relationship healthy (and not so healthy).
It isn’t unusual for young girls to be nervous prior to their first OB/GYN visit, but you can help by letting them know what to expect. Most teens will not need a pelvic exam during the initial visit; many OB/GYNs will simply talk to the teenager about her development and answer any questions or concerns. You can even help her feel empowered by allowing her to choose whether she prefers a male or female provider — the important thing to remember is that she understands she can trust her provider and can ask any questions confidentially and without judgment.
If you are considering scheduling your daughter’s first OB/GYN visit, contact Beaches OBGYN at (904) 241-9775 for more information or to schedule an appointment.