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Seeing a gynecologist for the first time can be scary — terrifying, in fact, if you have filled your mind with images of having to take your clothes off, undergoing a vaginal examination with a speculum while your legs are in stirrups, and perhaps even experiencing pain. Thankfully, your first trip to the gynecologist doesn't have to be anything like that. A good gynecologist is an ally who helps you take charge of your reproductive health and answers questions you may not be willing to admit to anyone else you even have.
What will happen at your first OBGYN appointment, and how can you make the most of this visit? This short guide is written especially for teens, as that first trip to the gynecologist should ideally take place during the teenage years.
When Should You See A Gynecologist For The First Time?
First things first — what exactly is a gynecologist/obstetrician? OBGYNs are doctors who specialize in female reproductive care, including monitoring pregnancy and childbirth. OBGYNs can specialize in a variety of fields, including preventative health care, surgery, urinary tract disorders, pregnancy and birth, treating reproductive cancers, and adolescent gynecology.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that all young women have their first gynecology visit between the ages of 13 and 15. Though you may wonder why you need to see a doctor when there probably isn't anything wrong with you, your first trip to the gynecologist serves several important purposes.
If you have been suffering from menstrual cramps, have irregular menstrual cycles, haven't started menstruating by age 15 yet, or have encountered other reproductive issues, your first gynecology appointment offers a wonderful chance to have those issues addressed. Your gynecologist may also spot problems you were not aware you had, enabling you to get treatment.
How To Choose An OBGYN
If you're a teen, your parents or guardians will be involved in the process of choosing an OBGYN. They'll look for an OBGYN who is in-network so that you will be covered by insurance, and if your mom is already seeing an OBGYN she trusts, she may recommend you see the same person or someone else from the same practice.
Because a gynecologist is responsible for caring for such an intimate part of your health, it is important that you are also very comfortable with your gynecologist. You may want to think about what you'd like in a doctor, and let your parents know. One thing many teen girls (and adult women!) find comforting is to have a female OBGYN. If you are sexually active or have a lot of questions about sex, you will want someone open-minded who is very willing to answer your questions about everything from birth control to condoms and sexually transmitted diseases as well.
You can do an internet search to find out what your rights are, and to find out whether or not your parents will be informed about everything you tell your gynecologist. In many countries, sexual health clinics where you have more confidentiality are also available.