It’s not easy helping your child navigate puberty. With it comes your daughter’s first period, questions about pregnancy and the need to know about her sexual health. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that girls start seeing an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) between the ages of 13 and 15. But every person is unique, so here are some guidelines to help you determine the right age to take your daughter to an OB/GYN.
- Your daughter has a specific medical concern. Painful cramps, irregular periods or other problems with menstruation may be a reason to see a gynecologist at a younger age. If your daughter has a yeast infection, urinary tract infection or cysts, a visit to the gynecologist may also be beneficial. Although a family medicine physician can answer questions and provide guidance, a gynecologist may be able to identify any underlying problems.
- Your daughter is sexually active. A gynecologist can discuss birth control and sexually transmitted diseases with your daughter. Another topic to discuss might be the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.
- Your daughter has questions. Unlike your annual wellness visits with your OB/GYN, your daughter’s first trip to the gynecologist will typically involve a discussion of her health history, vital signs and what to expect during future visits. If she has questions about her period, breast tenderness or the normal changes that occur with puberty, a gynecologist can offer insight as well as peace of mind.
- Pelvic exams and pap smears are encouraged beginning at age 21, even if your daughter does not have specific concerns and is not sexually active.