Should Your Teen Daughter See a Gynecologist?

If you’re a teenage girl or the mother of a teenage girl like I am, you might be wondering, “When is the right time to go to the gynecologist for the first time?” Well we have somebody who has the right answer. Brittany Denny, DO, an OB/Gyn with ProMedica Physicians. I sat down with Dr. Denny to ask her some common questions about keeping teenager girls healthy.

Chrys Peterson: Dr. Denny, when is the right time for a teenager to come see you?

Brittany Denny, DO: I think the right time definitely depends on the patient; it’s an individual decision. Sometimes it’s appropriate for a girl to come in when she’s 13/14 if she’s having really bad, heavy periods. We can certainly help with that. The other time is whenever she’s sexually active or thinking about being sexually active. I always think it’s better to be prepared and have a gynecologist that you’ve met with. You can talk about birth control and safe sexual practices before actually heading down that path. the other answer is by the age 21 because that’s when we’re recommending that all girls get a pap smear.

Chrys: And just because you make an appointment and come in to see the gynecologist, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to have a pelvic exam, right? Some people might be nervous about that. 

Dr. Denny: Exactly. I think that’s what keeps a lot of girls away from the gynecologist. But just because you’re meeting with a gynecologist for the first time doesn’t mean you’re going to have a pap smear. More often than not, unless you’re having a problem that we need to look and do an exam, we’re just probably going to sit and talk and get to know each other and talk about your problem and go from there.

Chrys: Sometimes if you take your daughter to the gynecologist, three can be a crowd at the doctor’s office, right?

Dr. Denny: Yeah, I think it’s definitely helpful to have the mom or the parent there in the beginning of the visit to review all the family history and her own medical history if there’s things she doesn’t remember from when she was younger. But usually there’s a point in time when I ask mom to step out and let us have that private conversation. Sometimes the patient’s a little more comfortable talking openly about gynecologic issues without a parent in the room. And it also gives them the opportunity to kind of practice that one-on-one exchange with the doctor without their parent there to help them answer the questions.

Chrys: It’s sometimes awkward for parents to be in there for those conversations. So that gives them kind of an “out” too, right? To just be able to say “Ok, I know you’re in good hands” with the doctor.

Dr. Denny: It does. I tell my patients there’s a lot of rumors a lot of misconceptions, things people hear or see on the Internet. Now’s your opportunity to ask all your questions. And maybe that’s a candid conversation that they’re not quite prepared to have with their parent yet.

Chrys: This also has another benefit and that is that you are getting girls at a young age to get into the habit of coming in for their well checks.

Dr. Denny: Definitely. At the end of every visit I tell my patient, “You have your very own gynecologist now. Come see me every year.” I think as a young woman, getting in the habit of talking with your gynecologist every year and checking in and having that exam really helps set the routine for the rest of your life.

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