by Denise Gallus, PA-C, Women’s Health and Wellness
There is no set time when you should take your daughter in for her first gynecological appointment. The American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society recommends Pap smear screening beginning at age 21.
However, many younger women may begin earlier appointments for management of heavy, irregular, or painful menstrual periods; menstrual headaches/migraines; hormone-related acne; infections; contraceptive needs; and more.
Menstrual cycles are problematic for many teens and young women. Low dose oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) can be beneficial in certain instances to help regulate periods and control hormone related symptoms.
Most women also safely take them continuously to skip periods altogether. Of course, OCPs are not the only option for managing menstrual issues. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and managing stress are beneficial lifestyle practices.
Your daughter may ask whether she will have to have a pelvic exam if she goes to the gynecologist. The answer is not necessarily.
For younger patients not sexually active, exams are not always necessary. However, there may be some associated anxiety if an exam is indicated. If so, take care to ask your health care provider for a thorough explanation of what to expect.
Normalizing conversations about the potential issues women encounter at all stages of life with your daughter is essential. It allows you to provide accurate information and ensure she receives proper care and treatment when necessary.