If you’ve never been to a gynecologist, it can be scary to think about those kind of visits. Not only will you get one of your most vulnerable body parts examined, you’ll also discuss your sexual history and concerns with a total stranger.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: There is no specific age to start going to the gynecologist. There is, however, an age range that could vary, depending on the patient’s circumstances.
We recommend getting your first pelvic exam at age 21, provided you’re not sexuallly active. If you are, you can schedule an exam while you’re still a teenager.
Below, we’ve listed several factors to consider when deciding when to schedule your appointment.
How do I know if I need my first gynecological exam?
1. If you’re sexually active. This may be a hard pill to swallow if the person reading this blog is a parent, but the reality is that some people start having sex during their teenage years. If this is the case, we recommend scheduling a gynecological exam as soon as possible.
This would be necessary for STD screening, as well as ovarian and cervical cancer screenings.
2. If you’re sexually active and missed your period. There are a lot of sex myths that go around in middle school and high school. One of them is that pulling out won’t get you pregnant. And even if you used a condom, sometimes they break.
If you have a regular period and it just didn’t come this month, schedule a gynecological exam as soon as possible.
3. If you’ve noticed an unusual discharge. If you’ve been getting your period for a while and suddenly notice a yellow or green discharge with a foul odor. Don’t put it off thinking it’s embarrassing. Gynecologists have seen everything. Failing to get treatment could result in a worse infection.
4. If your period has changed. If it’s unusually heavy or has suddenly become irregular, or you’re getting your period more than once a month, you’ll want to discuss it with an OB-GYN.
5. You’re experiencing pain. While feeling cramps during your period may be normal, if you’re experiencing pain that’s interrupting your regular activities, you may want to talk to a gynecologist.
What can I expect during my first gynecological exam?
This will depend on the reason for the visit. If you’re getting a pelvic exam and a pap test, you’ll take off all your clothes and put on a paper robe (the doctor will step away from the room while you do this).
You’ll then lay down at an examination table and place your feet on stirrups. The doctor will then come in with an assistant and perform two exams: the pelvic portion, where she or he will insert a speculum into your vagina (it will be cold) and examine it for about 2 or 3 minutes.
The doctor will feel around for any cysts and take a sample of the cells on the walls of your cervix and send it to a lab for cancer screenings.
The second portion of the visit is a breast examination. The doctor will tell you to put an arm behind your head, while palpating each breast to see if he or she can feel any unusual lumps. This portion of the exam also only takes a couple of minutes.
You can also talk about a number of subjects with your gynecologist:
– Your period
– Your sexual history
– Your sexual future
– Birth control and how to use it correctly
– Sexually transmitted diseases
– Getting vaccinated for HPV
– Issues with weight gain
– Issues with acne
– Issues with depression
It’s much better to get your questions answered by a doctor than by random websites or other teenagers.
It doesn’t matter how embarrassed or intimidated you might feel, gynecologists are here to help you. You won’t be judged. All questions will be answered openly and with the intent to make you feel as comfortable and as well-informed as possible.
Contact us at OB-GYN Women’s Center for a Gynecological Exam
If you’ve never been to a gynecologist and are nervous about your first visit, let us help you. Ask us all the questions you need for your peace of mind. We are here to answer them.
Contact us to schedule an appointment.