Below, we answer common questions surrounding adolescent gynecological care. Learn about the recommended age for initial gynecological exams, the focus of first visits, and the importance of annual appointments in promoting reproductive health, preventing health concerns, and supporting overall well-being.
When should you have your first gynecological exam?
General exams should begin at age 21 or sooner if there is a specific gynecologic concern.
If you are sexually active before age 21, you should make an appointment when you become sexually active.
Many healthcare organizations, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), suggest a girl has their first gynecology appointment between the ages of 13 and 15. These initial visits focus on building a relationship with the doctor and addressing questions about puberty, periods, and sexual health. Pelvic exams are not typical for first visits.
What should you expect at your first gynecology appointment?
Education on changing bodies, periods, and sex.
Pregnancy, STI prevention methods, and healthy lifestyles can be discussed.
Your healthcare provider can diagnose and treat problems like irregular periods or pelvic pain.
Most first visits don’t include an exam. Your doctor will be focused on getting to know you, your body, and your lifestyle.
If you do have a physical exam, your doctor will check your vitals, genitals, and reproductive organs.
How often should you have a gynecological exam?
It is standard for patients to visit a gynecologist at least once a year. If there are any health concerns, your visits may be more frequent.
As adolescents enter their late teens and early twenties, these visits become more important to monitor reproductive health, explore contraception options, and detect conditions like cervical cancer.
Why are annual gynecologic appointments important?
Annual visits with your doctor are essential for the prevention and early detection of health concerns like HPV and STIs, leading to more effective treatment.
Doctors can prescribe birth control options to help you reach your reproductive goals.
Regular exams help manage gynecologic conditions like PCOS and endometriosis.
Visiting your doctor can help promote overall well-being, support, and offer advice on nutrition, exercise, and stress management.