We wish the annual gynecologist visit wasn’t such a dreaded event, but we get it. It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable to lay on a table and have your most intimate parts examined by someone you only see a once or twice a year. On the flip side, these visits are integral to your health and well-being – and the advent of routine breast exams and pap smears have saved hundreds of thousands of women’s lives. The key to easing or eliminating those fears, concerns or nerves surrounding OB/GYN visits is to get off on the right track the first few visits.
Your daughter’s first gynecologist visit can be nerve wracking – but it doesn’t have to be. Let her know that this first visit will NOT entail any kind of internal exam (and then clarify that with the staff so your doctor knows that as well!).
We recommend bringing adolescents or young teen girls in when they’re due to get their HPV vaccination. This can be the perfect segue into educating, informing and trust building that is an essential part of female reproductive health.
What Girls Should Expect During the First Visit to the Gynecologist
First, it’s important to note that unless there is a specific problem or issue that suggests an internal pelvic exam is a good idea, we prefer to leave this out of the first or second visit with an adolescent or teen. That way, young women have a chance to get to know us and we can ask questions, listen, answer their questions, and so on.
When they know there won’t be a pelvic or internal exam, young women are less nervous and more present. We may, however, have her lay on the table so she can see what that feels like – and we can also gently palpate the exterior of her lower abdomen and upper-pelvic area (with clothes on) while we tell her what we feel.
Here are some of the things you can expect during your teen’s first visit to the gynecologist office:
A routine physical. In many ways, this visit will feel just like a typical physical done by a general physician. We’ll take her temperature and blood pressure; we’ll ask if she’s had a period or not and chart the dates if she has. If she hasn’t started her period, we can discuss her body and what signs and changes indicate that she’s getting ready to start her period. As mentioned above, we may also do a very general, external pelvic exam with her permission – but we’ll skip that if it makes her nervous.
Education and information. With your permission, we’ll show charts and diagrams of the female reproductive tract, including the anatomy that comprise the vagina and external genitalia. In many cases, the mothers or caregivers realize they weren’t exactly sure what was where or the official names of things. Women’s bodies have been virginalized, objectified and often shrouded in a cloud of mystery – and that isn’t as it should be. We feel every woman deserves to know herself and her body well – and accurate information is crucial if we want our daughters to be informed and empowered.
A Q & A session. Sometimes, young women remain completely mum at this stage of the game and are simply too embarrassed to speak up. However, if we are patient, open and start the conversation with a few of the most common questions asked by our adolescent and teen patients, we often find first- or second-timers relax a bit, smile as they hear their own queries are shared by others, and they may begin to ask a host of questions on their own.
A conversation about sex and contraception. We understand that every family has their own views on what’s appropriate and what is not, when it comes to teenagers, sex and contraception. That being said, we also know that the more accurately informed your daughter is, the better choices she will make for herself down the road. Need a kick-starter? Read, Talking to Your Daughter About Sex and Contraception, for insight and educational resources. Her first gynecologist appointment can be a great way to open the door to more complicated conversations about controversial topics. We respect your views and will structure our conversation accordingly – with the understanding that we’ll only divulge factual information (we don’t say the stork delivers babies, for example…).
Normalize, normalize normalize. Finally, we want to normalize your daughters experience and self. We can’t tell you how many women come in here with “embarrassing questions” or in fear that something about their bodies is all wrong – only to find out they are completely normal. We want your daughter to know that women and their bodies come in all different sizes, shapes and colors. That puberty and the first period are a moving target and 9.9 times out of 10, they are right on track. We want them to know that their feelings, urges, desires, discharge, smells, hair growth (or not), nipple shape, etc. are all just right for them. You will almost feel her audible sigh of relief!
The goal of the first visit is to acclimate your daughter to what will become a new, routine visit to an office that prioritizes her well-being and honors the fantastic self that she brings to the world.
Are you looking for a safe, comfortable and empowering office for your daughter’s first gynecologist visit? Contact us here at Overlake to schedule a consultation. We’d love to meet her.