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As older girls become teens, appropriate medical care and annual wellness appointments should include gynecology. Most young women should have their first visit with a gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15, which may be after or right around the start of menstruation.
A gynecologist (OB/GYN) is a physician who is trained to provide the best possible medical and surgical care throughout the many stages of a woman’s life, including the start of menstruation in adolescence, the childbearing years of early adulthood, and through menopause, or the end of fertility.
A girl’s first visit to the gynecologist touches on a variety of important topics. It usually begins with a conversation about good health habits and why it’s important to make gynecology a regular part of routine preventive care. A girl’s first visit also includes a general physical that measures her height, weight, and blood pressure, as well as a breast exam and an external genital exam. Young girls don’t usually have pelvic exams, unless they’ve been experiencing a problem like pelvic pain or abnormal bleeding.
The three main purposes of seeing a gynecologist are:
Adolescents generally don’t need to have a pelvic exam unless they’re experiencing a problem or symptoms that may warrant one. For most healthy women, the first pelvic exam happens at the age of 21, the age at which the first pap smear, or cervical cancer screening test, is recommended.
Girls who do need a pelvic exam should know that the exam itself is relatively quick, and has three parts:
Gynecologists want their young patients to feel confident about sharing personal information — it’s the only way they can offer the right treatment or advice. Most of the information that girls share with their gynecologist is confidential, including: