Part of growing up is learning to take care of your body. This means making good choices for your health, avoiding things that can hurt you, and seeing a health care provider—including an obstetrician–gynecologist (ob–gyn)—for routine health care. If you have never visited an ob-gyn before, you may have questions about what will happen at your first visit.
What to Expect
Women have special health care needs. Ob-gyns are doctors who specialize in women’s health. Girls should have their first gynecologic visit between the ages of 13 years and 15 years. The first visit may be just a talk between you and your doctor. You also may have certain exams.
It is normal to feel nervous about your first visit. It may help if you talk about it with your parents or someone else you trust. You may want to let your doctor know you are nervous. He or she can help put you at ease.
Your doctor may ask a lot of questions about you and your family. Some of them may seem personal, such as questions about your menstrual period or sexual activities (including vaginal, oral, or anal sex). Your doctor needs to ask these questions to best know how to care for you. Giving honest answers to these questions is key to your care. If you are concerned about confidentiality, you and your doctor should talk about it before you answer any questions. Much of the information you share can be kept confidential.
Many young women share the same health concerns. Most of these concerns are a normal part of growing up:
- Cramps and problems with menstrual periods
- Sex and sexuality
- Birth control
- Alcohol, drugs, and smoking
- Emotional ups and downs
Talking with your doctor about these issues is a key step to staying healthy.
Making good lifestyle choices can help you to be strong and healthy for years to come:
- Maintain a healthy weight by eating a well-balanced diet and exercising often.
- Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and using illegal drugs.
- Seek help if you have emotional ups and downs or feel depressed.
- Use birth control if you are having sex and do not want to have a baby.
- Protect yourself from STDs by using a latex condom. Know your partners and limit their number.
- Keep up with routine exams, tests, and immunizations.
Most young women enjoy good health. Health problems that arise for young women often are a result of high-risk behaviors, such as having unprotected sex or using drugs. Your doctor may offer some tips on how you can help prevent these problems and stay healthy
You may have certain exams at the first visit. If you choose, a nurse or family member may join you for any part of the exam. Most often, these exams are performed:
General physical exam*
External genital exam**
You usually do not need to have a pelvic exam at the first visit unless you are having problems, such as abnormal bleeding or pain. If you are sexually active, you may have tests for certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Most of the tests that teens need can be done by the doctor with a urine sample. You also may have certain vaccinations.
*General Physical Exam
During the general exam, your height, weight, and blood pressure will be checked. You also will be examined for any health problems you may have.
**External Genital Exam
In this exam, the doctor looks at the vulva. He or she may give you a mirror so that you can look at the vulva as well. This exam is a good way to learn about your body and the names for each part.