When Should a Girl See a Gynecologist?
The decision of when to first see a gynecologist—a medical doctor who specializes in the female reproductive system—is a highly personal one that should be made with thoughtful consideration. Even so, there are some general guidelines that young girls and parents can follow to help them make educated decisions.
As girls grow into teenagers and young adults, it’s important for them to receive appropriate health care and have a place where they can find expert answers to their questions. That’s why the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends for girls to first see a gynecologist for an annual well woman exam between the ages of 13 and 15. Visits for girls this age rarely involve pelvic exams or Pap tests—instead, most gynecologists will perform a basic health exam and ask general questions about developments they may be experiencing. It’s also appropriate for a girl of any age to see a gynecologist if she is sexually active or has started her period.
As young women grow out of their teenage years, they should consider receiving an annual Pap test. This test screens for precancerous changes in cells that line the cervix, which connects the lower portion of the uterus to the vagina. Some tests can also screen for human papilloma virus (HPV) infections. Many physicians recommend beginning this test around age 21. Depending on a women’s medical history and risk factors for cervical cancer, Pap tests may be recommended every three years instead of on an annual basis.
Other Reasons to Visit a Gynecologist
Of course, gynecologists do more than just provide annual exams and cervical cancer screenings. They are also a woman’s primary source of care for issues that involve the breasts or female reproductive organs. It’s a good idea for women to consult with a gynecologist if they have any of the following health concerns:
- Unusually heavy, irregular or painful periods
- Urinary tract infections or urinary incontinence
- Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
- Unusual bleeding or discharge
- A breast lump or abnormalities in one or both breasts
- Sores, rashes or itchiness around the genital area
- Difficulty conceiving
- Pain during sex or sexual dysfunction
- Concerns related to sexual abuse
Our Approach to Gynecology & Women’s Health
Tufts Medical Center Community Care is trusted by women throughout north suburban Boston for world-class gynecology services. Our team includes compassionate gynecologists and OB/GYNs who provide a full spectrum of women’s health care to patients of all ages, including girls and teenagers who have questions about their bodies and the changes they may be experiencing. No matter if it’s your first time speaking with a gynecologist or it has been a few years since your last visit, you can be assured that you’ll receive the friendly and expert service that our medical group is known for providing.
Contact Tufts Medical Center Community Care today to schedule an appointment with a women’s health specialist on our team. You may also reserve an appointment online at your convenience. We look forward to helping you achieve your best health.