This post is the first of two to help prepare young women for their first visit to the gynecologist. It might help to read them in order; the second post can be found here.
You might know that Ob/Gyns are the doctors that deliver babies. While that’s true, pregnancy care and deliveries are only two parts of their jobs. Obstetrician gynecologists (Ob/Gyns) are physicians who specialize in health care for women throughout all stages of their lives, starting in their teen years.
At Virginia Women’s Center, in addition to nearly thirty Ob/Gyns, we have several women’s health nurse practitioners. Our nurse practitioners have advanced degrees and are trained in obstetrics and gynecology. They collaborate with our physicians to provide care for any typical health need.
As you grow and develop into your teen years, some questions might arise that would be better answered by a women’s health care provider as opposed to your pediatrician. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that young women have their first gynecologic exam between the ages of 13 and 15 or when they become sexually active, whichever comes first. We recommend that you talk to your parent or guardian so that together you can decide the appropriate timing for this appointment. However, ultimately, the decision of when to have your first gynecologic exam depends on you. For example, if you are having problems with your menstrual cycle or are interested in learning more about birth control, you should make an appointment with an Ob/Gyn or nurse practitioner.
When you’re thinking of scheduling your first gynecologic visit, it is important that you pick a physician or nurse practitioner with whom you feel comfortable. A good place to start is our Web site where we have biographies of all our health care providers.
No matter the age at which you first go to the gynecologist, the first visit is an important time to establish a relationship with your physician or nurse practitioner. Your first visit might just be for counseling or, depending on the reason for your visit, your health care provider might perform certain examinations. During your visit, you will be asked questions about your menstrual cycle and your sexual health. Even though these questions can be uncomfortable, it is important that you are open and honest with your health care provider so that he or she can provide the best care for you.
Just like nutrition, exercise and getting enough sleep are important components of a healthy lifestyle, your sexual health is one more thing to consider and monitor as your grow up. In our next post, we’ll go into further detail about the kinds of examinations you can expect during an annual exam as well as your rights as a patient.