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Prepare Your Daughter for a Well-Woman Exam
Seeing a gynecologist for the first time as a young woman can be intimidating. Alecia Davis-Townsend, MD, FACOG, a board-certified Obstetrics and Gynecology specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, offers her advice for helping your daughter feel more comfortable.
Women should start having pelvic exams and Pap tests by age 21 or within three years after having vaginal intercourse for the first time.
“Even if your daughter feels well, it’s still important for her to see a gynecologist for a well-woman checkup,” explains Dr. Davis-Townsend.
A gynecologist can help a young woman understand her body and how it works and establish what’s normal for her, as well as find problems early so they can be addressed and treated.
“On the first visit, the doctor will ask your daughter about her medical history and how she’s feeling,” notes Dr. Davis-Townsend. “The doctor may use this visit to explain to your daughter why it’s healthier for her not to have sex while she’s a teenager and how to help protect herself if she does become sexually active, as well as help her prepare for healthy relationships and future pregnancies.”
During a woman’s first gynecological exam, the doctor will examine the patient’s pelvic area to make sure her reproductive and other internal organs are healthy and feel normal. A clinical breast exam will also be performed to feel for lumps and swollen lymph nodes.
“Since breast cancer does occur in young women in their 20s, this is an ideal time for the doctor to teach your daughter how to perform a breast self-exam,” says Dr. Davis-Townsend. “Your daughter should promptly report any breast change to her doctor."