When Should I Start Seeing the Gynecologist?


 When Should I Start Seeing the Gynecologist?

 Gynecologists are great assets to use to your advantage. Your gynecologists address issues regarding sex, periods, cleanliness and general women’s health. An OB/GYN provider specializes in both obstetrics and gynecology. Gynecology focuses on a woman’s health as it relates to her reproductive. Problems with heavy or abnormal periods, delayed puberty, pain, discharge, and sexual wellness are all taken care of by your gynecologist. Many OB/GYN doctors also function as the primary care provider for healthy teens and women. For chronic problems such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension and other long-term health conditions a woman will also need to see another doctor that specializes in medicine or family practice care.

At what age should I start seeing a gynecologist?

 There is no exact timeframe when a woman should start seeing an OB/GYN doctor. Experts recommend starting at age 13-16 for screening purposes and to address concerns or questions about menstruation and female health. This does not mean the patient will need a pelvic exam. Many young women start seeing the OB/GYN doctor at the time of first intercourse or if period abnormalities, pain, or unusual discharge occurs. In general, pelvic examinations and pap smears do not need to start until age 21. Pelvic exams are done before age 21 if specific problems occur. Infections, heavy bleeding, abnormal discharge or unusual pain can be reasons to perform a pelvic exam. More concerning problems like delayed puberty or problems related to pelvic anatomy and function are specialty areas that are also managed under the care of a gynecologist. Your OB/GYN is well trained to treat and manage adolescents. It can often be embarrassing or intimidating for a young woman to see her OB/GYN for the first time. To the office staff and the physician, it is routine. They are well trained to help take care of you by understanding your fears and apprehensions.  

What goes on at an annual gynecologist visit? 

Generally, during a standard visit to the gynecologist, basic vital signs are checked such as weight, blood pressure, and pulse. Your physician or practitioner will also check your breasts for any unusual lumps, discolorations or abnormalities. What makes most young women nervous is the vaginal exam. Remember, these are trained professionals and a vaginal exam is just another daily routine. Your doctor will first examine the outside of the vagina around the vulvar area to make sure everything looks healthy, then they will examine the vaginal canal and cervix. In this process the doctor will use a device called a speculum that opens the vagina, this process will cause some pressure but should not cause any pain. This is where the gynecologist checks for signs of STD or cancer. A pap smear is taken by gently scraping the cervix and vaginal canal to collect cell samples, this is similar to a cheek swab. Pap smears are focused mainly on checking for cervical cancer and pre-cancer so make sure you communicate with your doctor if you would like any specific testing done regarding STD or other diseases. During your annual exam, this is the perfect time to ask as many questions as you want. Don’t be shy, they have heard it all.

What are other reasons I should see a gynecologist outside of my annual visit?

 -   Pelvic pain

-   Pain with urination

-   Newly sexually active  

-   Unusual odors

-   Unusual discharge

-   Severe pain with period

-   Birth control consultation/insertion

-   Suspected infection

-   Pain with intercourse

-   Absence of period 

Alexandra Creative writer for WMCS

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