My very first trip to a gynecologist was when I was pregnant with my daughter. While my mother took me to a pediatrician as a child and teen, she never actually took me to a gynecologist. Of course, I was a young mother, but even being pregnant, I was still a little shocked at what took place at my first appointment with a gynecologist.
When my daughter was 11 years old, I took her to her first gynecological visit. Of course, at that age, there isn’t much to expect, especially since she wasn’t sexually active. Her pediatrician had suggested it as a good course of action for all tween girls, before menstruation, in case the child has any issues to discuss.
What I Didn’t Expect at First Gynecologist Visit
I agreed with the pediatrician that taking an 11-12 year old girl to a gynecologist is a good idea. At this young of an age, it’s unlikely a pediatrician will perform a pelvic exam, unless the child is already menstruating or is sexually active. However, the gynecologist can ask questions about health and physical symptoms or conditions that a parent might not even know to ask, letting any problems be found early.
What I, as a parent, did not expect was that the doctor separated me and my child. At the pediatrician’s office, they would never ask me to wait in the waiting room while my child was examined, but at the gynecologist’s office, it was required. This unnerved me at first, until the gynecologist and the nurse at my daughter’s first gynecology visit explained.
With children being sexually active at much earlier ages these days, and with some children being afraid of talking with their parents, or some parents being unwilling or unable to be open with their children about sexuality, sometimes talking to a doctor makes things easier. Sexual and reproductive health is so very important, and sexual activity and problems related to reproductive organs should be discussed with a doctor who has all the facts.
The gynecologist at my daughter’s first gynecology visit wanted to talk to my daughter alone, fully clothed, in his office, with the nurse present, before he decided to do an exam or what exams he would do.
What to Expect at a First Gynecologist Visit
When we arrived at the gynecologist for my daughter’s first gynecologist visit, she and I both were given forms and a patient history to fill out. We returned these to the desk, and then waited for my daughter’s name to be called. The nurse then called us to come to the doctor’s office, where we sat in chairs across his desk and he and I discussed information about my daughter’s medical background.
That’s when the nurse escorted me back to the waiting room and then returned to the doctor’s office to visit with my daughter in private. If you are a teen reading this and are wondering what to expect at your first gynecology visit, it’s important to know that whatever you tell the doctor or nurse during this visit is completely, 100% confidential–they cannot, by law, tell your mother or father or anyone else, for that matter.
Doctor’s who break confidentiality can lose their license to practice and have to pay huge fines, so you can trust they are going to keep any secrets you tell the doctor or nurse during your first gynecology visit. In fact, if you are sexually active and you would like birth control, you can discuss this with the doctor in his office and he will perform the examinations and tests required to put you on birth control, and he will even give you your prescription in private if you do not want him or her to tell your parent.
If this is your first gynecology visit with your daughter, and you are a mom reading this article, it’s important for you to understand and respect your daughter’s privacy about this issue. Don’t grill or drill her for information about what she said. If she wants to talk to you about it, she can and will, but don’t push the issue. It’s better she be honest with the gynecologist and be healthy than to be fearful of telling the doctor the truth and risk having something serious happen to her health or body.
What Happens Next at First Gynecological Exams
Will the gynecologist do a pelvic exam? That depends on a number of factors, such as how old you/the patient are/is, whether you are sexually active, whether you’ve begun menstruating, whether you’re experiencing problems, etc. The gynecologist will tell you beforehand whether he or she plans to do an exam.
Even without a pelvic exam, you can expect the doctor to do some things to you that might be a bit embarrassing or uncomfortable, especially if you’re not used to people touching your body or seeing you without clothes. These are normal things the doctor has to do, and if you ask questions, he or the nurse will explain the procedure and why it’s important. Even with a doctor’s visit, you do have a right to say no, but be sure you fully understand why you’re saying no and what it is the doctor or nurse needs to do.
Where Will the Gynecologist Touch Me?
The gynecologist will likely want to inspect your breasts, vaginal area, pelvic area, and may want to perform an internal pelvic exam. The doctor will have to touch your body in all these areas, and him doing so is perfectly normal. If you have not been sexually active, it is unlikely the doctor will perform a pap smear test, so he or she will likely not have to use a speculum or other instruments in your vaginal area.
However, the gynecologist might choose to feel your ovaries, and this procedure will require the insertion of one or two gloved fingers into the vagina, while the doctor presses gently on your stomach/abdomen area to feel for the size, position and health of your ovaries. This is not a painful procedure.
Will the Gynecologist Insert Instruments or Tools in my Vagina?
As stated earlier, it is up to the doctor and dependent upon your age and other conditions. Most girls who are under a certain age and are not sexually active will not require a full vaginal exam or pap smear/test. However, every doctor is different, and some like to perform these exams on everyone, just to be sure and safe.
If the doctor decides to perform a full pelvic exam or pap smear/test on your first gynecology visit, he will use a tool called a speculum, a funny-shaped metal tool that will gently open your vaginal opening so the doctor can reach your cervix and take a small scraping with a wooden tool, to test the cells for abnormalities.
For most women, a pap test/pap smear like this is completely painless.
For some women, there is tenderness, but most women say they feel nothing but a strange sensation that takes only a few seconds and then goes away. If you experience pain, tell your doctor immediately, as this is likely an indication of a problem.
Will They Take Blood at My First Gynecology Visit?
The doctor will determine if taking blood is necessary. It is likely he will want to perform certain regular blood tests, so yes, you can expect the nurse or phlebotomist to take blood during the visit.
Some Things to Keep In Mind At Your First Gynecology Visit:
If you have been sexually active and told the gynecologist, he will want to test you for sexually transmitted diseases, and he or she might want to discuss birth control with you.
You can be honest with the doctor about sexual activity, pain, problems, symptoms, etc, and they cannot by law tell your parents. It’s very important for your health and safety that your doctor knows your history and sexual activity. It’s not embarrassing and your doctor should be professional. If he or she is not, it’s okay to ask for a new doctor or to report any negative things the doctor says to your nurse.
It’s a scary and nervous time going for your first gynecological visit, but it’s part of your life and you should go at least once per year, every year, and more frequently if you have problems, to ensure your safety and health. There are many conditions that if caught early can be completely cured very easily but that could be deadly–or worse (yes, there are things worse than death!–if you don’t get them treated by getting over your fear and going to your first gynecological visit.