How Do I Prepare My Daughter for Her First Gynecologist Visit?
Whether or not you are someone who takes a trip to the gynecologist in stride, getting your daughter on board with it can present its own challenges. However, with some careful thought and preparation you can do a lot to turn it into a positive experience. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that girls have their first visit with an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) between the ages of 13 and 15 or when they become sexually active, whichever comes first. Start talking to your daughter before this time by sharing tidbits of your own experiences with the gynecologist.
When it comes time for your daughter’s first visit consider engaging her in the process of finding a doctor she will feel comfortable with. This healthcare provider will be a valuable source of information regarding her reproductive health so stress the importance of finding someone she can develop a trusting relationship with as well as someone whose policies align with your family’s values. Don’t assume that she will want the same doctor that you have and also check to see if she would prefer a female doctor. The bottom line is that your daughter is the one who needs to be comfortable asking questions as well as giving honest and complete answers even when it might be a little embarrassing.
If your daughter is not sexually active and is not experiencing any difficulty with her periods then she may not need a pelvic exam on her first visit. Have a conversation with the doctor ahead of time so she knows what to expect. If your daughter does need a pelvic exam then let her know that this is only a small part of the overall exam and that she can have a nurse in the room as well. Remind her that the doctor is a professional who has done this procedure countless times and is really only concerned with her health and well-being. Usually doctors are good at making their patients feel comfortable with light conversation or having posters on the ceiling to look at.
A good time to see a gynecologist is about a week after your last period. If she doesn’t already, have your daughter track her periods for a few months prior to her seeing the gynecologist. You’ll know when to schedule the appointment as well as noticing any irregularities that might be a concern. Encourage your daughter to write down any questions she might have and bring them to the appointment. You may want to be in the room for a pelvic exam but do allow some time for her to talk privately with the doctor. Let her know that there’s no questions the doctor hasn’t already heard and this is really her opportunity to get information on those things she might be curious about.
Have a fun activity planned for you and your daughter immediately following the appointment. This will give her something to look forward to and allow some time for you to assess how it went. You want her to feel comfortable with this doctor so be sure to address any concerns she may have right away. Your goal should be to guide her in creating a positive caregiver relationship in order to establish a lifetime of proactive healthcare habits.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and are not intended as medical advice. For medical care and advice, you should consult your physician or health care provider on a regular basis. If you have any problem which concerns you, consult your physician immediately.