At what age should my daughter see a gynaecologist?

Dr Sharmaine Mitchell

Monday, June 24, 2019

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Dear Dr Mitchell,
What is the right age for a girl to go to the gynaecologist for the first time? I have a 13-year-old who I think is ready, but she is scared to even get undressed in front of a doctor. She has just started her menses and I want to know if this is the right time to have her examined.

The gynaecologist can see women of all age groups and sometimes practice as the general family physician. However, the usual age for a woman to see the gynaecologist for routine checks is normally after 18 years old, since paediatricians tend not to see teenagers after this age.

A good paediatrician can usually manage a lot of the simple gynaecological problems with which teenagers present. In cases where it is deemed necessary, the appropriate referral is usually made.

At age 13, in an otherwise healthy teenager, she can be followed-up by her general practitioner or paediatrician.

She should be given the vaccine for prevention of cervical cancer. There are two vaccines on the market, Gardasil 9 and Cervarix. You should ask your family doctor or paediatrician about these.

At age 13, she should receive two doses, with the second dose given six months from the first dose. This protects against the human papillomavirus and cervical cancer. You should also receive the vaccine for yourself once you are 65 years or younger.

However, you will need to receive three doses in the six-month period instead of the two doses recommended for young girls under 15 years old.

Teenagers tend to be shy and reluctant to have any form of exposure, especially to strangers. This is totally normal and should be encouraged.

In addition, you should accompany her for her consultations and be available at the time of her examination so that she can feel comfortable and reassured that she will be safe.

In the absence of any other problems, it is perfectly safe to continue with her usual doctor. Pap smears are usually done to screen for cervical cancer after age 18, so she has a long way to go.

Best regards.

Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Ave, Kingston 5; or fax to 876-968-2025. All responses are published. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor.


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