LANSING, Mich. — Your teen's first OB/GYN appointment is a key step in making sure they are safe and healthy as they enter adulthood. It is crucial to not only prepare yourself as a parent, but to prepare your teen for what they should expect.
Your teen should consider seeing an OB/GYN for the first time as soon as they become sexually active, at the age of 21 for a pap smear for cervical cancer, or whenever they feel they have a concern or issue that needs attention. First appointments will include examinations of the heart, lungs, and vaginal and pelvic areas if the patient has any specific concerns. For sexually active patients, the doctor will provide STD screening and testing.
Though you might want to accompany your teen to their first appointment, it is primarily for their health, and they need to have the ability to make important decisions such as starting birth control or receiving HPV vaccinations.
“Patients should come prepared with questions about the changes they’re experiencing with puberty and start thinking about their own female health as separate from a kid who is under the guidance of their parents,” said Dr. Laura Kota, board-certified OB/GYN. “This is the time for patients to become the decision makers about their own health.”
It is crucial to make sure your teen knows that visiting their OB/GYN is different from seeing their pediatrician or their family doctor. They will be asked new questions about their health, such as about their sexual activity and other issues related to puberty. It is routine protocol to give your teen alone time with the doctor to discuss these issues and more, so that they can feel as comfortable speaking openly as possible.
After your teen sees their OB/GYN for the first time, they will be encouraged to return. However, the frequency of visits varies depending on the patient. Sexually active patients should return yearly for STD testing, and non-sexually active patients should return once they begin having sex or when they turn 21. Any and all patients, however, should schedule an appointment if they notice any changes or concerns that they want to talk to their doctor about.
“Having a teen go to an OB/GYN should be a way to initiate the management of female health in a safe, non-threatening environment,” said Kota. Making sure the patient feels comfortable is of utmost importance. It is vital for them to know that their doctor wants to discuss anything that they are curious or worried about without invading their privacy.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kota, or for more information, click here: https://www.mclaren.org/main/physician-directory/kota-laura-4704
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