Dear Dr. Pari: Your First Trip to the Gynecologist
Our in-house gynecologist answers all of your questions!
We know you have a lot of questions about your bodies, and sometimes they’re super embarrassing to ask IRL. Fortunately, we have our in-house gynecologist here to answer all of them for you online – anonymously!
Meet Dr. Pari Ghodsi, MD and FACOG board certified gynecologist, and your new reproductive health guru!
If you have a question for Dr. Pari, you can DM us on Twitter, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll answer them every week!
Read on for this week’s installment of Dear Dr. Pari.
When should I plan my first trip to the gynecologist? What’s it like and what should I expect? – Rachel, 16
Going to the gyno at any age isn’t exactly a trip to Baskin Robbins, but the first visit is especially terrifying so I am glad that you asked about it because the more that we talk about these things the less intimidating they become. The first thing to know is when you should go to the gynecologist.
Girls should have their first gynecologic visit between the ages of 13 years and 15 years old. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the first visit may be just a talk between you and your doctor. It is a great way for you to get to know your doctor and more about yourself! Use this visit to ask as many questions as you can about your body, your menstrual cycle, and sex. It is your appointment, so use it! Besides general questions you may have specific concerns that are super common for most teens such as; cramps and problems with menstrual periods, acne, weight, birth control, std’s, alcohol, drugs, smoking and emotional ups and downs.
You may also have certain exams at the first visit. Most often, the exams performed are a general physical exam and an external genital exam.
During the general exam, your height, weight, and blood pressure will be checked. You also will be examined for any health problems you may have. In an external genital exam, the doctor looks at the vulva (which is basically the outside of what you consider your vagina because the term vagina actually just refers to the inside). He or she may give you a mirror so that you can look at the vulva as well.
The internal exam also known as the pelvic exam is only necessary if you are having sexual intercourse or are having any sort of problems, such as an infection or abnormal bleeding. If you are sexually active the doctor will also need to test for sexually transmitted diseases.
It is important to understand this is not a pap test. A pap test is where the doctor uses a brush to take a sample of cells from your cervix. Please note you do not need a pap test until you are 21!
During the pelvic exam the doctor will place one or two gloved, lubricated fingers into your vagina and up to your cervix. The other hand will press on the abdomen from the outside. This exam is uncomfortable but it shouldn’t hurt. Mainly it just feels strange and feels like a lot of pressure in your vagina. Like I said, not exactly a trip to Baskin Robbins.
Remember, your first gynecologic visit is a great chance to take charge of your health. As women we need to be proactive about our health and our bodies. Have no shame in your game girl! Be involved in your health care. Follow up with your doctor to find out your test results. Ask questions and see your gyno on a routine basis to be sure you have all the tests you need to stay healthy!
Follow Dr. Pari on Twitter @Pari_MD.
If you have more questions about seeing the gynecologist (or any question you’re too embarrassed to ask IRL), tweet or DM them to @YSBnow or email email@example.com, and we promise to get them answered ASAP!