It's Time for Your Teen’s First Gynecological Appointment. Are They Ready — and are You?

Monday, January 1, 2024

Your teen will experience many important milestones as they grow up. From their first steps to their first day of school to their first time behind the wheel, there will be plenty of “firsts” that you’ll look forward to. Some firsts may not come with as much excitement but are just as essential, like their first gynecological appointment.

Going to see a healthcare provider who is skilled in gynecological care is an important part of your teen growing up. At the same time, it can feel overwhelming as a parent or caregiver. Knowing why these appointments are so crucial and what to expect can help put everyone at ease.

Here’s what you should know about your teen’s first gynecological appointment and how you both can prepare.

When Should My Teen Start Seeing a Gynecological Provider?

As they grow up, your teen will go through a lot of physical and emotional changes. Because of this, they should begin seeing a provider who is skilled in gynecological care between the ages of 13 and 15 years old.

There are many reasons to make that first appointment with a gynecological provider— some of which are routine, others of which are not. While you can proactively schedule their appointment during this age range, you may be prompted by another concern, such as if your teen:

  • Does not get their first menses or “period” by 15 years old
  • Experiences very heavy, painful, frequent, or periods
  • Experiences increased acne or growth and development concerns
  • Is sexually active
  • Has questions about their gender identity

Keep in mind — your teen might feel nervous asking you to make their first gynecological appointment. They also may not be completely transparent about the reason they want to go. Remember that UI Health Mile Square is an appropriate place for your teen to access health advice in a safe and comfortable environment. If your teen requests a gynecological appointment, consider that a reason in itself to schedule a visit for them.

What Will Happen at My Teen’s First Gynecological Appointment?

One of the reasons both parents and teens feel anxiety about the first gynecological appointment is the assumption that a pelvic exam will be needed. However, this isn’t the case the majority of the time.

Unless your teen is experiencing problems, like abnormal pain or bleeding, they will not need a pelvic exam. If your teen is sexually active, they may need testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), many of which can be done with a urine sample. As for cervical screenings or “pap smear” tests, this type of screening is not recommended until your teen turns 21 years old.

Instead, most of your teen’s first gynecological appointments will be a conversation between them and their trusted provider. They might discuss:

  • How to stay healthy
  • What changes to expect as they grow up
  • Questions about sex
  • Any health concerns, either physical or emotional
  • What to expect at future appointments
  • Normal and abnormal gynecological symptoms

Your teen may also undergo a general physical exam (when their height, weight, and blood pressure will be assessed) and an external genital exam.

How Can My Teen and I Prepare for Their First Gynecological Appointment?

At UI Health Mile Square, our office provides compassionate care with a deep understanding of the needs of our patients. Our mission is to provide a friendly and safe space for your teen during this important time in their life. 

It’s normal for both you and your teen to feel anxious about their first gynecological appointment. As a parent or caregiver, it might feel like this first appointment is a big deal — and that’s because it is. It marks the beginning of a significant relationship your teen will build with their provider, who will help them build a positive relationship with their changing body.

You can prepare by providing support for your teen, whether that’s in the form of driving them to their appointment, staying in the waiting room, or accompanying them into the room for a portion of the appointment if they desire. It can also be helpful to remind yourself to step back and let them take charge of their own health.

Your teen can prepare by learning what will happen at their appointment. You may want to encourage them to bring a list of questions for their provider. Remember, this is a great time to give your teen space and resist asking them what they plan to discuss.

Parenting is always a balancing act between helping your teen navigate new situations and letting them take the lead. Your teen’s first gynecological appointment is no different. By providing support and allowing room for their independence, you’re doing everything in your power to make this transition comfortable for everyone.