Although adult women are instructed to have gynecological exams (including Pap smears) every one to three years, it can often be unclear as to when these exams should begin. Some may begin visiting the gynecologist as soon as they become sexually active, while others may wait until their early twenties or even later. When should your tween or teen daughter visit the gynecologist, and what will this visit involve? Read on to learn more about the benefits and potential drawbacks of scheduling a gynecological exam for your daughter before she turns 18.
When should your daughter first see a gynecologist?
Although it's not necessary for your daughter to begin visiting a gynecologist as soon as she enters puberty or has her first menstrual period, most doctors recommend every girl see a gynecologist at least once by the time she is 15. This can help ensure that your daughter's reproductive system is healthy, and can also provide the opportunity for the doctor to answer any embarrassing or sensitive questions your daughter may have.
You may want to explain to your daughter a bit about the procedures involved in a gynecological exam so that she can determine whether she'd prefer a male or female doctor. During the first exam, the gynecologist will likely just examine the outside of your daughter's genital area, rather than perform a full pelvic exam. Because your daughter won't need a Pap smear until her early twenties, the exam shouldn't be overly invasive. You may want to stay in the room with your daughter, or she could ask you to leave to provide additional privacy. It's important to respect her wishes in this regard.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of early gynecological visits?
There are a number of advantages, and relatively few downsides, to seeking gynecological care at a relatively young age. By seeking gynecological care in the early teens, your daughter may be able to have contributing factors to infertility (like polycystic ovarian syndrome) diagnosed early enough to be treated without having any permanent impact on your daughter's fertility. This can also provide your daughter with birth control methods to help avoid unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases after she becomes sexually active.
However, if your daughter is highly resistant to this doctor visit, or if she seems uncomfortable or panicked at the thought of visiting a gynecologist, you shouldn't force the issue. Instead, you may want to start the process with your family doctor or another trusted doctor whom your daughter feels comfortable with. Although there are many benefits to receiving early gynecological care, the psychological damage associated with forcing this care on an unwilling teen may not be worth the positive health outcomes. If she is ready for her first appointment, contact Merkouris Rhene.