If you thought gynecological well-woman visits are only for adult women, think again. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends girls schedule their first OB/GYN visit between ages 13 and 15.
Learning to take care of their reproductive health from an early age helps adolescent girls grow into healthy women. At Kelly Morales, MD, our team, led by Dr. Morales, provides compassionate adolescent teenage care to young women who live in and around San Antonio, Texas.
Here’s what you need to know to help prepare your daughter for her first well-woman exam.
The purpose of the first well-woman visit is to establish care and begin a trusted doctor-patient relationship. Teen girls may not feel comfortable asking their parents or other adults questions about puberty, sex, and birth control. A well-woman visit means your daughter can get reliable information about these important topics.
This visit also helps establish the importance of regular OB/GYN care and removes the fear from these visits once they’ve had a good experience. Dr. Morales helps your daughter with this challenging time of change and provides trustworthy information about what’s normal and what could be a sign that she should schedule a visit with us.
We view your teen’s first visit as an opportunity for her to know Dr. Morales and become comfortable addressing any questions or concerns she may have. As part of the first visit, we conduct a general health exam, taking vital signs and checking height and weight.
Full pelvic exams are not usually performed at your daughter’s first visit. In fact, Dr. Morales doesn’t usually conduct this exam unless your daughter’s health requires it. The recommended age for a first pelvic exam is 21.
The main focus of the first well-woman visit is to build trust and put your daughter at ease. Dr. Morales takes time to discuss issues relevant to your teen’s overall health as well as her reproductive health. Some of the topics she may cover include:
It’s not unusual for teen girls to have irregular periods for about two years after getting their first period. Dr. Morales explains the causes of irregular periods and provides reliable information about indicators that there may be an issue with your daughter’s menstrual cycle.
For example, if your child is experiencing very painful periods that disrupt her daily routine or if she regularly gets very heavy periods, Dr. Morales discusses possible causes and treatments.
Everyone knows puberty is a difficult time for teens. It can be hard for teens to ask parents questions about the hormonal and physical changes their bodies are going through. To ensure your daughter seeks treatment when necessary, Dr. Morales discusses what’s normal and what’s not.
Even though it can be hard to believe your teen may have a sex life, over half of teens in the United States have had sexual intercourse by the time they turn 18. Dr. Morales discusses sex and birth control in our safe and trustworthy environment to make sure your daughter has the facts and knows how to care for her body.
Topics of discussion may include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine as well as the dangers of unprotected sex. Dr. Morales also answers any questions your teen may have.
As part of her gynecological care, Dr. Morales also discusses general health topics with your teen. These may include things like drug and alcohol use, mood and depression, diet and exercise, and sexuality.
Coming in for a well-woman visit doesn’t mean Dr. Morales will perform a pelvic exam. When appropriate, however, she may conduct a brief external genital exam to ensure your daughter’s health.
If your daughter is sexually active, Dr. Morales may explain options for birth control and protection against STDs as well as perform a pelvic exam to help keep your daughter healthy and safe.
If a Pap test is called for, you can help prepare your daughter by explaining the process: Dr. Morales gently inserts a speculum, an instrument that holds the vagina open, into the vagina and swabs the surface of the cervix to collect a sample of cells for laboratory testing.
To help keep your daughter comfortable, explain this exam only takes minutes and isn’t painful, although she may feel some pressure. Staying relaxed and calm helps the exam go smoothly and alleviates discomfort.
Schedule your daughter’s first well-woman visit by contacting our office in San Antonio, Texas, at 210-570-7277.