Prepping Your Daughter for Her First Gynecology Exam
The idea of seeing a gynecologist or having a pelvic exam can make young women feel nervous, embarrassed or scared. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that young women have their first gynecologist visit between 13-18 years old.
The purpose of this visit is to allow your daughter to establish a relationship with the gynecologist, ask questions and learn what is normal regarding her development. Explaining why the visit is necessary, giving your daughter a sense of what to expect and addressing any questions or fears she might have can help her feel more comfortable when it’s time to schedule her first gynecology visit.
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Preparing for the Exam
Sometimes when girls are stressed or nervous during an appointment they can forget their questions. Have your daughter think about questions before her visit and write them down. Common topics that are discussed include periods, hormones, birth control, sex and sexually transmitted infections. The visit is private, and the topics discussed in the visit are protected by privacy laws.
It’s not necessary to shave or wax before getting a gynecologic exam. The main consideration on how to prepare for an exam is to simply be clean, so showering or using a hygiene wipe prior to the visit is suggested.
During the Exam
Ease your daughter’s nerves. In most cases, a pelvic exam is not required. The doctor will do a pelvic exam only if the patient has any complaints of lumps, bumps, pelvic pain or strange discharge. Gynecologists recommend a pelvic exam and Pap smear beginning at age 21, and they are typically every three to five years.
The Pap exam can reveal signs of cervical cancer, ovarian cysts, fibroids in the uterus and other possible reasons for heavy periods. Even if your daughter doesn’t need a pap smear, she can ask the doctor to tell her how it’s done and show her the speculum. That way, she’ll know what to expect when it comes time. You can also describe it for her if you feel comfortable and promise not to scare her.
The first gynecologist appointment may make your daughter nervous, but the next ones will be much easier. The good news is that if they're uncomfortable with the doctor, they can always choose another one. It's important that they find a gynecologist to trust. Women should see a gynecologist on an annual basis to maintain good vaginal health. To learn more or schedule an appointment now, visit ochsner.org/womens.