If you have a preteen girl in your family, like I do, you may be wondering what to expect as she goes through puberty. Girls are hitting this milestone at an earlier age on average than they did a generation ago, with the average onset of puberty in girls occurring at 10 ½ years of age. Menarche, or the beginning of menstrual periods, begins approximately two years later. What, then, should you do to prepare for your daughter's first visit to the gynecologist?
The first appointment
Your daughter's first appointment with the gynecologist should be made between the ages of 13 and 15, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It should occur even before that if she is already sexually active. Chances are this is a younger age than your own first gynecological exam.
If you do not have a gynecologist of your own, the first thing you should do is find a good one. You can ask friends or family for recommendations, or simply try one from the list of providers included on your insurance plan. Girls may be more comfortable with a female gynecologist, even if they are perfectly happy with their male pediatrician.
What will be done in the exam?
Your daughter should be comfortable going into her first gynecological exam. The best way to make her comfortable is to find out as much as you can about the exam and share this information with her. Ask your gynecologist or her nurse ahead of time whether your daughter's first exam will include an internal pelvic exam or a Pap smear. It likely will not include either.
The doctor will likely do a breast exam and teach your daughter how to do her own monthly breast exams. She will also probably examine the outer genital area. For this reason, your daughter should be adequately prepared for an exam that will require her to fully undress. Find out if you will be able to stay in the room with her during the exam so that if she is more comfortable holding your hand, she'll know that's okay.
Prepare her medical history
One tedious but very important part of seeing a new doctor is providing a full medical history. Your daughter's personal medical history might not be so hard to remember, but the family history is more complicated. And when it comes to family history, she has not only your side, but also her dad's to consider.
Family histories of certain diseases or conditions need to be noted in her medical chart, so you should do some homework before her first appointment to make this part easier. Print a copy to use as a reference as you fill out office paperwork, then offer the copy to place right in your daughter's chart for easy reference.
Remember to include relevant information about your own pregnancies and childbirth. If the doctor you choose is an OB/GYN, your daughter may be seeing her from the first visit all the way through her own pregnancies and beyond.
Buy her a present
The last thing I suggest you do to prepare for your daughter's first visit to the gynecologist is buy her a pair of the cutest socks you can find. Wrap them up in a little gift bag and hide it until you are in the doctor's waiting room. While she is waiting, probably nervously, give her the little present. The cute socks are sure to make her smile, and they may be enough of a distraction when she has to get in the stirrups for the first time to help her be just a little more comfortable with the whole experience.
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