Growing up, children in the United States normally visit their pediatricians with regularity. At some point, however, there will be situations in which a pediatrician will pass along continuation of care to another specialized doctor. In the case of female reproductive health, this doctor is a gynecologist.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, recommends girls and young women schedule their first gynecologist appointment between age 13 and 15. This coincides with puberty, during which time young women’s bodies begin to change. There will be questions, concerns, and anxiety. It’s normal to feel nervous about these changes, but hopefully we can help put you at ease.
What should you expect when you schedule your first appointment? Your very first visit will likely be just you and the doctor. The doctor will ask you questions about your general health, family health, and medical history. For sexually active young women, the doctor may ask about birth control methods. They could also speak about prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
The gynecologist usually will not perform a pelvic exam during the first appointment. They may, however, if there is persistent abdominal pain or bleeding. It is likely at the first visit your doctor will speak about what to expect in regard to changes in the coming years. They can also help answer questions and ease concerns about acne, weight changes, sex, the menstrual cycle, etc. They will make sure you are making good choices and taking all the right steps to stay healthy.
Remember, it’s okay to be nervous. This is an important time in your life, and with everything that’s changing both inside you and around you, it’s normal to have questions or concerns. Doctors typically recommend subsequent annual gynecologist appointments, barring any unexpected concerns. It’s normal to have anxiety about going to the doctor. For a young woman, there’s no reason to fear your first gynecologist appointment. It will be quick, easy, painless, and best of all, good for you.