Advice from a local OB/GYN.
By Kellen Goldschmidt, MD, ProMedica Physicians Obstetrics | Gynecology
Sexual health and well-being can often be a taboo subject for parents to discuss with their daughters, but it doesn’t have to be. An open dialogue can help ease what might have been an awkward conversation and encourage healthy habits when it comes to being proactive about her healthcare.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that girls have their first gynecologic visit between the ages of 13 and 15. To some parents, this may seem a little premature, but this is a great opportunity to learn, to ensure that their daughters are on track with their development and to gently introduce sensitive topics, such as periods.
There are issues that arise when we encourage a young woman to come to the office, for example, if she is experiencing abnormalities with her periods, or has unusual fluid or discharge, we may need to evaluate for potential infection.
First visit expectations
The first visit with a gynecologist is not as intimidating as teenagers may think. Unless they are sexually active, the first visit will often not include a pelvic exam. It is often a conversation between the patient and their chosen provider on topics such as drug and alcohol use, safe sex practices, contraception and mental health.
If the patient (or the parent) are apprehensive about spending the full visit together, the first half of the visit would include the provider, patient and parent/guardian. Then the parent/guardian can be asked to leave the room so the provider and patient can have a private conversation and address any issues she may be uncomfortable speaking about with a parent/guardian in the room. Of course, that is optional and up to the patient; she can also choose to keep her parent/guardian with her for the duration of the visit.
It is recommended for teenagers to follow-up with their gynecologists annually although, depending on the circumstances, more frequent visits may be necessary.
Having a positive first interaction with a gynecologist can play a vital role in ensuring young girls are proactive with their sexual and reproductive health. Parents and guardians can set the standard by teaching their daughters how to take charge of their health.
For more information, visit ProMedica.org.
Kellen Goldschmidt, MD is an Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialist with ProMedica Physicians at Levis Commons in Perrysburg.