Adolescent Gynecology in Smyrna
A major misconception for many young women is that they don’t need a gynecologist unless something is “wrong.”
Nothing could be further from the truth and for an adolescent their first gynecological visit lays the foundation for a lifetime of health and wellness.
Guidelines by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that young girls schedule their first visit with a gynecologist between 13-15 years of age. It is also an accepted practice for an adolescent to see a gynecologist after her first period.
Your adolescent’s initial visit should be a positive experience in which she is gently introduced to the issues, concerns and joys of transitioning from a child to a young woman.
It’s essential for that first visit to be with a specialist experienced in working with adolescents.
The primary goals of the visit are threefold:
- Information – accurate information is essential for adolescents to make good choices, understand their changing bodies and sexuality, and menstruation
- Prevention – this includes pregnancy prevention and encompasses healthy lifestyle choices and avoiding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Treatment – is available to address issues ranging from missed periods to potential reproductive problems
Many women don’t feel comfortable discussing a female’s special health needs, even with their daughters.
Likewise, a girl entering puberty will typically have questions she won’t be comfortable sharing with her mother.
The gynecologist’s office is a safe, non-critical environment where girls can learn about developing healthy habits and choices, obtain counseling about their concerns, and have testing and screenings performed.
Choosing A Gynecologist
You can help your daughter choose a gynecologist, but just as you may not feel comfortable with a specific practitioner for any number of reasons, the same is true for an adolescent.
Trust and confidentiality are two key components of a successful visit with a gynecologist. It’s critical that the information, testing and exams be provided in a gentle, age-appropriate manner.
What To Expect
Many teens feel apprehensive, embarrassed or even scared at the prospect of a gynecological exam and your support can help ease those feelings.
The first visit will typically include an external genital exam, but not an internal one, and this is usually what generates the most anxiety for teens. You should explain that this is just a small portion of the visit and doesn’t take long.
Nevertheless, there are some situations in which an internal exam may be necessary, if the teen is experiencing symptoms of painful periods, irregular menstruation, or unusual vaginal secretions.
Having those problems and the underlying causes diagnosed and addressed early can save your daughter from years of pain and worry. It’s important that you reassure her that some other teens experience the same situations.
The initial exam can address topics that include:
- Physical changes
- Contraception and emergency contraception
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Effects of drug and alcohol use
- Domestic violence – sexual, physical, mental and emotional
- Diet, exercise, obesity and self-image
Your adolescent may also receive a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
Physical & Emotional Changes
One of the topics addressed during an adolescent’s gynecological visit is the changes that her body is undergoing as she matures. Menstruation is a large part of that and the gynecologist can demystify and normalize the process for your daughter. Your teen will learn about her cycles and any changes that might occur of which she needs to be aware.
Connected with the beginning of menstruation are changes in the breast that adolescents may be concerned about. Your daughter’s initial visit with her gynecologist may or may not include a breast exam. The physician can also explain that tenderness isn’t uncommon and provide best practices for relieving discomfort.
For many adolescents, the onset of menstruation comes with emotional mood swings known as PMS that can be extremely confusing.
Her gynecologist can explain these in detail as to how and why they occur and reassure her that they’re normal, many women experience them, and measures she can take to lessen the effects.
Contraception & Emergency Contraception
Every young woman should have access to factual information about contraceptive methods if she’s to make healthy decisions over the course of her lifetime. Multiple types of contraception methods are available to fit different lifestyles and contingencies.
- Abstinence – adolescents will learn about abstinence, the benefits of delaying consensual sexual activities and sexual responsibilities
- Condoms – are available for both men and women and the gynecologist can explain how and when they’re used
- Spermicides – are available in foams, gels, films and suppositories that form a chemical barrier to pregnancy
- Oral contraceptives – hormonal based pills taken each day to prevent pregnancy
- Mini pills – that increase cervical mucus to form a barrier to sperm and egg
- Emergency contraceptives – known as the “morning after pill” and are used when another type of contraceptive isn’t being employed
- Patches – are thin, unobtrusive adhesives that stick to the skin and are changed each week
- Vaginal rings – are inter-vaginal devices effective for up to four weeks
- IUD – an intra-uterine device that must be placed by an OB/GYN
- Injection – a birth control injection is available that’s effective for up to three months and is administered by a physician
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Today’s adolescents have multiple types of STDs they need to be aware of and not all of them are transmitted through vaginal intercourse. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be passed to others through skin-to-skin contact.
Your daughter’s gynecologist will provide information about the different types of STDs and prevention. Not all STDs or STIs demonstrate immediate symptoms and can remain dormant in the body for years before becoming active.
Drug & Alcohol Abuse
While drugs and alcohol may not seem like a topic for discussion during a gynecological exam, both substances have a direct impact on the decision making process. Your daughter will learn how drugs and alcohol can affect her ability to make good decisions and lower her resistance to engaging in activities she normally wouldn’t do.
Domestic violence encompasses much more than what you typically see on TV. It also includes bullying in person and online, and has become a normal part of adolescent gynecology consultations. As part of your daughter’s wellness visit, the practitioner will provide her with information, resources and warning signs of which she should be aware.
Adolescents can mistake controlling behavior for true affection and even the most level-headed teen might be motivated to do things and behave in ways that they normally wouldn’t. Domestic violence can take many forms, from the psychological and financial to the physical.
Diet, Exercise, Obesity & Self-Image
During your daughter’s wellness visit to the gynecologist, she’ll receive information on the importance of a healthy diet, obtaining enough exercise and the dangers of obesity. All those factors affect the body and can severely impact an adolescent’s self-image.
Why Dr. Cook?
Dr. Cook has vast experience in working with adolescents. She will ensure your daughter’s first wellness visit with a gynecologist to be positive, informative and contain the least amount of stress possible.
An adolescent may have questions or just need reassurance and the initial visit with a gynecologist is your adolescent’s first step toward a lifetime of good gynecological health.
For same day appointments please call us at (770) 431-2322. We make every effort to respond to your request right away during regular business hours.