It’s a question that mothers of tweens and teens frequently ask their OB-GYN: When is it time for my daughter’s first appointment?
The women’s health specialists at St. Elizabeth Healthcare know this question can be tricky – but it doesn’t have to be. Check out our Q&A session with our compassionate team of obstetrician/gynecologists (OB-GYNs) and rest assured that at St. Elizabeth, your daughter’s care is in the best hands.
At what age should a young woman first see an OB-GYN?
According to Dr. Abby Loftus-Smith, OB-GYN at St. Elizabeth, there is no “perfect” age to start seeing an OB-GYN – but between the ages of 15-16 is a good rule of thumb.
“At that age, they don’t necessarily need an exam but it’s good to get established with a physician,” says Dr. Loftus-Smith.
In general, the St. Elizabeth team doesn’t recommend that younger patients undergo a full exam and pap test until the age of 21. Most teens are apprehensive about their first appointment, but it’s really an opportunity to get to know their physician to discuss any issues or concerns.
“If patients have daughters with period problems or they think they’ll become sexually active, it’s best to establish care with a GYN provider,” says Dr. Lily Hahn, OB-GYN at St. Elizabeth.
What should you expect when going to your first OB-GYN appointment?
For many young girls – and even their mothers – the first OB-GYN appointment can be nerve-wracking. But our care team strives to provide a compassionate, comfortable environment.
“There’s a lot of talking at your first visit,” says Dr. Jacqueline Carpenter[, OB-GYN at St. Elizabeth. “We talk about your health history and your period. We even try to have one-on-one talks with parents out of the room to address some sexual health questions.”
The Women’s Health team at St. Elizabeth is here to listen. If you are comfortable with your parent leaving the room, great – and if not, that’s perfectly okay too.
What advice do you have for someone going to her first OB-GYN appointment?
Lisa Downton, Certified Nurse Midwife at St. Elizabeth, says don’t be afraid – and to communicate your feelings with your care provider.
“If you are scared at any point during the appointment, make sure to let your provider know,” says Lisa.
Our team suggests relaxing as much as possible before and during the appointment. The buildup is usually significantly more stressful than the actual appointment.
“We’re not that scary – and everyone is nervous!” says Dr. Loftus-Smith. “Most of the time we hear from patients, ‘Oh that wasn’t bad!’”
At St. Elizabeth, our Women’s Health team is here for you. Establishing a relationship with your OB-GYN will set the tone for a productive and honest doctor-patient relationship as you grow from teen to young adult and beyond.
Make an appointment today
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with one of our compassionate Women’s Health physicians, please visit stelizabeth.com/find-a-doctor or call (800) 737-7900.