So what is the deal for adolescents and their Ob-Gyn care? All too often we hear teenage women say: “Uhh, I am scared to go to the doctor!” or “I am not having sex, so I don’t need to see a Gynecologist!” or “Really though do I need a pelvic exam at my age!?”
We’re here to address the frequently asked questions from both inquisitive adolescents and their concerned parents.
The American College of Ob-Gyn (ACOG) recommends that teenage girls see an ob-gyn for the first time between the ages of 13 and 15. Physicians recognize that adolescent years are a critical time in a young woman’s psychological, emotional and sexual development as noted by Dr. Diane F. Merritt, MD, who chairs the ACOG committee on Adolescent care. We know that starting gynecological appointments at this age may seem early, but early intervention to inform and guide teenagers and their parents is crucial.
As Ob-Gyns, we want to break down myths, alleviate fear, and gain your trust as we form a lifetime partnership of caring for you (or your daughter) as a growing woman. Here is a break-down of some common concerns:
How often should my teenager visit the doctor?
Teamwork between a generalist doctor in adolescent years who offers general preventative care and an Ob-Gyn who provides reproductive preventative health care is key, so your daughter should attend two annual well-child visits.
Does she need a pelvic exam?
The dreaded pelvic exam is not needed unless problems are discovered in a patient’s medical history.
At what age should my daughter receive her first Pap smear?
The first Pap smear test should occur at age 21 barring additional health concerns.
We encourage young people to delay becoming sexually active a primary means of avoiding unintended pregnancy and acquiring unwanted sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But if your daughter is sexually active there is additional reason to visit an Ob-Gyn:
- We can provide screening for sexually transmitted diseases can be done (and urine tests are available alleviating the need for a speculum exam to collect samples).
- We can discuss the use of and provide a prescription for contraception barrier protection to avoid unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
I look forward to your questions and comments and to seeing you and your teens at Hampton Roads Ob-Gyn Center for a first consultation.
About the author: Dr. Diagne is a board-certified Ob-Gyn at Bon Secours De Paul Medical Center right here in your back yard. He has three kids aged 13, 8, and 4 months and no adolescent daughter yet- but she is on her way!