When Should My Daughter Have Her First Gynecology Visit?
Female reproductive health is an important priority once a girl reaches puberty, but as a mom, you may wonder, “how soon is too soon” to see a gynecologist? According to Dr. David Ghozland, Los Angeles area OB/GYN, the first gynecological visit should be scheduled during the teen years under certain circumstances, including:
- If she has not started her period by age 15. The age range for the onset of menstruation is between 9 and 15, so if your daughter has passed that milestone it may be a good idea to get a doctor’s opinion.
- Menstruation has started, but it’s been 3 months since her last period. Strenuous sports activities, eating disorders and stress are all factors that can cause a delay in the onset of the menstrual cycle, but if a girl has gone more than 90 days without a period, she should be evaluated.
- Lengthy or heavy periods. Menstrual periods with abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding requiring more than one pad or tampon every hour or having clots larger than an inch in diameter are considered excessive. An OB/GYN can evaluate your daughter to look for a hormone disorder such as polycystic ovary syndrome or run tests for a bleeding disorder.
- Extreme PMS. Teen girls are naturally emotional and monthly PMS can definitely heighten the drama. But, if a girl is experiencing extreme mood swings, depression, sadness and pain, it’s time to see a doctor.
Dr. Ghozland says it’s also a good idea to schedule a gynecological exam if your daughter’s cycle causes her to miss school or other activities. Painful lower abdominal cramps may be accompanied by nausea, diarrhea and lightheadedness, can begin one to two days before the period starts, and can last two to four days. This discomfort usually responds to non-steroidal inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, but extremely painful cramps may indicate a medical problem such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease, issues that can be diagnosed with a physical exam.
As a final note, even if your daughter’s menstrual cycles seem normal and problem-free, if she is sexually active, you will want her to undergo screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) at least once a year and have a discussion with a gynecologist about birth control options.
The most important things, says Dr. Ghozland, is to begin having conversations with your daughter about her evolving reproductive health while she is still a young teen, so that when the time comes, she will be both comfortable and well prepared.