When to Take Your Daughter to the OB/GYN

teen girl with doctor

If you have a daughter, odds are you've been taking her to the pediatrician since she was no bigger than a breadbox ... only your little girl may not be so little anymore. Her beanpole frame may have started developing some womanly curves. She may have gotten her period. Heck, she may even be dating boys or expressing a curiosity about sex (hello, heart attack). All of which may have you wondering if it's time to book her an appointment with someone more suited to addressing these changes than a pediatrician -- like an OB/GYN.


Well, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, girls should have their first gynecological visit between the ages of 13 and 15.

"This age range is recommended because most girls are starting or going through their periods around this time in their lives, and engaging in some form of sexual activity," explains Jenny Jaque, MD, an OB/GYN at Health Goes Female.

That said, you should book an appointment earlier than 13 if your daughter is sexually active before that point. Or if, on the other hand, your daughter is a "late bloomer" who hasn't had her period or started dating by 15, you'll want to book an appointment anyway, just so she'll know what to expect once these changes happen down the road and can ask any questions.

"While kids can continue seeing a pediatrician until the age of 18, many of these professionals may not be comfortable covering topics like sexuality, since that's not their expertise," says Jessica Shepherd, an OB/GYN at Her Viewpoint. An OB/GYN can also address other concerns such as acne, weight, sexual health, and contraception if necessary.

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If the prospect of visiting an OB/GYN makes your daughter (or you!) nervous, know this: this initial checkup will merely involve a general physical exam and only an external genital exam -- in other words, she won't be subjected to stirrups.

"There is no need for a speculum exam unless there is a specific complaint like severe menstrual cramps, or the young girl has become sexually active and a sexually transmitted disease screen needs to be performed," says Dr. Jaque. Just keep in mind that "sexually active" isn't just sexual intercourse, but includes oral sex.

"Many think that oral sex isn't 'sex' that puts them at risk for STDs, but many, like HPV and herpes, can be transmitted orally," points out Dr. Shepherd.

Does the thought of hearing details about your daughter's sex life make you (or her) uncomfortable? Then feel free to give her the option of speaking with the OB/GYN in private without you in the room -- not only to determine whether STD testing should be done, but to clear up questions that might feel awkward to discuss amongst all three of you. Likewise, if you feel tongue-tied being frank with the OB/GYN with your daughter listening in, you can request a private one-on-one discussion with the OB/GYN as well.

When do you think is the right time to bring a girl to the OB/GYN?


Image via Iakov Filimonov/shutterstock

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