First gyn appointment: A teen’s guide for what to expect

February 19, 2024

Women's Health
Teens first gyn apt

The most important message for your teen before her first gyn appointment is it won’t be as bad as she thinks. No one looks forward to visiting the gynecologist but talking about it openly and making your teen feel prepared means she’s more likely to schedule that first gyn appointment –– and keep it.

When should your teen have her first gynecological appointment?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends teens visit the gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15.

There are several reasons why it's important for teens to start seeing a gynecologist regularly.

  • Track reproductive development and identify any potential problems early.
  • Discuss sexual health to avoid unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections
  • Treat problems such as irregular periods, pelvic pain or vaginal discharge.
  • Help teens cope with the physical and emotional changes that come with puberty.

Where to go for the first gynecological visit

For teens, the most common place for the first visit is a pediatrician or family doctor's office. Both kinds of providers typically discuss reproductive health with teens during wellness visits. “Birth control counseling is a routine part of my visits with adolescents,” says Tonia Contelmo, D.O., a gynecologist and obstetrician at Riverside Partners in Women’s Health. I’m always happy to talk with teens to answer any questions they may have about their sexual health, including options for preventing pregnancy and STDs” says Dr. Contelmo.

Gynecologists are experts at caring for teens who have specific concerns or questions about their reproductive health.

How to ease your teen's nerves before the first gyn appointment

It’s normal for your teen to feel nervous or embarrassed for her first gyn visit. Talking openly will help ease her nerves. Reassure her that a teen gynecologist visit usually doesn’t include a pelvic exam. Cervical cancer screening begins at age 21.

Here are some additional tips for easing your teen's nerves:

  • Let your teen choose a provider.
  • Talk about what to expect.
  • Encourage your teen to ask questions.
  • Offer to stay in the room for some or all of the appointment or wait outside.

What to expect during the first gynecology appointment

The purpose of the first gyn visit is to establish care, and it typically doesn’t involve a pelvic exam. The doctor will spend most the appointment discussing your teen’s medical history, menstrual cycle, any discomfort and if she is sexually active.

For those patients who do need a physical exam due to pain or discomfort, it may include some or all of the following:

  • Exam of external genitals
  • Breast exam
  • Pelvic exam with a speculum to check the vagina, cervix, uterus and ovaries
  • STD screening

Remind your teen she is in control of her body and can say no to any part of the exam that makes her uncomfortable.

Let her know the healthcare provider will be respectful and help her feel comfortable. With more information about what to expect, teens will feel more confident and informed.

Frequently asked questions and concerns from teens to gynecologists

Your teen might need some prompting on what questions to ask at her first gyn visit. Remind her that the visit is strictly confidential, so she can discuss anything.

Some common topics include:

  • Body changes, such as breast development, menstruation and acne
  • Preventing STIs
  • Sexual health, including birth control

Don't hesitate to contact your provider if you or your teen have any questions or concerns about gynecological health. They are there to help you and provide you with the information and support you need.

Have you had an annual gyn appointment this year? Schedule an appointment today.

Looking for an ob/gyn provider? Find a gynecological care provider here

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