Often, a pelvic exam is unnecessary during a teen’s first visit unless she has specific concerns. To give our young patients a good start, we like to talk to them about anatomy and physiology. We also discuss menstruation, PAP smears: why they are done and what takes place during one, sexually transmitted infections such as HPV and how to avoid exposure, contraceptives, pregnancy and many other areas. We take the time to answer all patients’ questions. And while we always encourage girls to bring a friend or family member with them to their first visit for support, the office is committed to maintaining our patients’ rights to privacy.
We also believe it’s important to get to know what teens are thinking, what their goals are, what their level of self-esteem is and how much they know about smoking, drinking, and weight. All this lets them know that we are concerned with more than just giving them a pelvic exam — we want to help them to be successful in life. And that is usually easier for teens when they delay childbearing, avoid STIs, and stay healthy.
Many people ask us when we think a young woman should come in for her first gynecologic visit. The answer is: It depends. Irregular or Painful periods, Urinary Tract or Vaginal Infections like yeast, or Birth Control are common reasons for an initial appointment. However, girls should know that an internal exam is not always necessary unless there are specific concerns.
Beginning to menstruate is part of normal development. When a girl’s period first starts, it can be typical to have an irregular menstrual cycle. For most girls this is not a problem, but for others — perhaps due to school, sports, and other activities — irregular periods can be quite disruptive. Sometimes it is necessary for a teen who is not sexually active to take birth control pills to help regulate her cycle.
Pap smears are a screening test for cervical dysplasia, the precursor to cervical cancer. Pap smears are indicated for sexually active females and all women 21 or older.
When it comes to birth control, we always discuss available options with our patients, making sure they understand the benefits and risks of each. That way, each woman can decide which option is best for her. Of course, we adamantly encourage the use of condoms to prevent STIs.