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Ask A Doc: Melissa Kushlak, DO, Women’s Health

When should I schedule my daughter’s first gynecology appointment?

We recommend an initial visit between 13-15 years old or sooner if an issue or questions arise.  We are happy to spend an initial visit establishing a relationship with your daughter, explaining what to expect in future visits, or answering any questions you or she may have.  One common fear that you can dispel prior to the first visit is that a pelvic exam is not necessary at every visit to the gynecologist!  Many visits, especially for adolescents, involve discussion and counseling only.  Unless your daughter has specific concerns that necessitate a pelvic exam, it will not be required that she have an exam at the initial visit.  And of course, even if the doctor suggests a pelvic exam, it will only be done with her full consent.

How should I prepare her for the appointment?

The best way to prepare your daughter for this appointment is to start the discussion surrounding important subjects including sex, sexually transmitted disease, alcohol, and drug use.  These are the important health topics that we as gynecologists will be able to discuss with your daughter, and fill in any gaps or misunderstandings in knowledge.  Often times, school programs can be incomplete, or adolescents may rely on inaccurate information from peers or the Internet.  An important role for a gynecologist is to be a trusted and safe place for your daughter to ask any questions, and know that she can find answers.  Let her know that no question is considered “stupid” or “silly” when she is at the doctor, and that she can feel safe to ask any question she wishes.

What questions should I be prepared to ask on her behalf?

It will be important to let your daughter’s gynecologist know about all of her medical and surgical history, including any medications she may be taking and any allergies she may have, if she is not able to provide this full history herself.  It will also be helpful to provide a family history for your gynecologist to be able to document at the initial visit.  You can also discuss with your daughter beforehand if she has any specific questions that she may wish to ask, and help her remember these at the visit.  It is also helpful to discuss beforehand with your daughter if she would like time alone with the doctor, to discuss any questions or concerns she may feel comfortable discussing only with her doctor.  Many gynecologists will do a portion of the initial adolescent visit with a parent or guardian present, and a portion alone with the patient to provide a safe space for questions and building trust.

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