One question I often am asked is “Doc, when should I start bringing in my teenaged daughter?” The mother continues,
She is fifteen. I’m SURE that she isn’t sexually active but she can be quite a pill during her period.
My answer: Yes. Bring her in. There is no age cut off for most gynecologists (the youngest patient I have seen was 10), and the visit covers a myriad of topics (sexually active or not) and questions.
A big benefit to bringing girls in early is they have a trusted resource besides Google and their friends.
Let’s review what to expect during a gyn visit for a teenager.
- First she will get triaged by the nurses, this includes a blood pressure and weight check, and a general review of any medical concerns or issues she may have.
- Although every doctor is a little different, the guidelines do NOT recommend a pelvic exam unless the patient wants an STD test, has pelvic pain/ discharge, or has another complaint that requires an exam.
- Most of the visit is a counseling visit when they come to see me. We discuss any concerns they may have, questions about myths they have heard online or from friends.
- We review the recommendations for vaccines (Gardasil, meningitis, flu when applicable).
- Sometimes during our chat, it becomes clear there may be a menstrual issue that we can address to help improve quality of life.
Speaking of menstrual issues, did you know girls are still missing school because of bad periods??? In some households, pads/ tampons become too costly. It pains me when I hear what some of these girls suffer through. Parents, an easy way for you to gauge if your daughter’s cycle is too heavy is if she is bleeding through her clothes and sheets at night. That means her flow is TOO heavy.
What can we do about it?
Well, one option to decrease the amount of blood loss is to start birth control. No, birth control does NOT increase sexual activity. Nor does it give a girl the green light to have sex. There is virtually no correlation between using birth control and sexual activity. A young girl’s quality of life can dramatically improve because of either the pill, or the depo provera shot or really any form of birth control. It does NOT affect future fertility either. Check out my previous article about this very subject for more information.
Any teenage girl that seems to be struggling with her menstrual cycles should definitely come in to be seen.
All teenagers should see their gynecologist at least once a year if they are sexually active, and every 12-18 months if not.
It can help tremendously to diminish the nerves and anxiety surrounding the gynecologist. It also helps foster a trusting relationship between the teen and he doctor so if she needs something and is too embarrassed to ask her parents, she has someone to turn to. We want your these young women to be as safe and healthy as they can be, just like you.
When in doubt, bring them in!