Time for a Change: When it’s time for your daughter’s first visit with a gynecologist

Watching your little girl grow into a beautiful young woman can create a full range of emotions: exhilaration, joy, sadness, anxiety, pride. The list goes on and on. While she may not take your advice on fashion or friends, you can help her make good decisions about something that really matters: her health. When it’s time to switch from her pediatrician to a more grown-up type of care, here’s what you need to know:

Q: At what age should I take my daughter for her first visit with a gynecologist?
A: It might be earlier than you think. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends an initial visit with a gynecologist between ages 13 and 15 to establish a trusting relationship.

Q: How can I help my daughter prepare for the visit?
A: You can walk her through what’s likely to happen in the exam room. This visit usually does not include a pelvic exam (unless there is a problem), but it provides the perfect opportunity for your daughter to establish a good relationship with the gynecologists at Adena Health System. They’ll discuss family health history, menstruation, sexually transmitted diseases, and making good choices about sexual health. The physician also will ensure that you and your daughter understand the screenings and preventive behaviors that will keep her healthy. Ideally, your daughter will spend some time talking with the physician on her own, without you in the room. This is important to help your daughter establish a trusting, open relationship with her new physician.

Q: When does my daughter need her first Pap smear?
A: The ACOG recommends the first Pap test at age 21.

Q: How can I help my daughter build a good relationship with her physician?
A: First, choose the right gynecologist for your daughter. Ask your pediatrician or family care doctor for a recommendation. It’s also a good idea to ask your daughter about her preferences. Would she like to see a male or female doctor? At Adena, we offer many different care providers to help meet the needs of individual patients. If you’re concerned about what the gynecologist will discuss with your daughter—for example, if you’d like to not discuss contraception—ask to meet with him or her beforehand to talk about your concerns. And finally, while you may love your gynecologist, that doctor may not be the best fit for your daughter and could even be uncomfortable. Talk to your daughter about seeing a different doctor in the same practice or even going to a new practice.

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