For adolescent girls, the thought of getting their first gynecologic exam can be terrifying, but once you discover what's involved it won't be scary any longer.
The Gynecologists at Avera Women's say girls should come in for their first exam between the ages of 13 and 15 and that first visit is much more about education than anything else.
Dr. Danielle Berdahl, OB/GYN says, "It's a fact gathering visit. We do some screening for high risk behaviors, menstrual disorders, problems with pain, as well as educating them to what's normal for their body and age. We want to make sure they are going through normal developmental stages and a lot of counseling. We basically help them prepare for the remainder of their life as a woman."
Part of that initial exam also includes discussion on the human papillomavirus which is a sexually transmitted disease that causes most cervical cancers. They also talk about the vaccine that protects against it.
Dr. Berdahl says, "The recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that all girls ages 9-26 get the vaccine. The goal is to vaccinate them before they are ever exposed."
So many young girls and their moms are reluctant to make that first appointment because they fear they'll end up in a procedure room staring down some pretty scary looking equipment. Dr. Berdahl says that is just not the case.
Dr. Berdahl says, "During that first gynecology exam, you don't necessarily need to have a pap smear or pelvic exam done unless you are having pain or other issues. The current recommendation for having your first pap smear is by the age of 21 or within the first 3 years of having sexual activity."
A lot of girls during their early teens are just trying to get comfortable in their skin and the changes that are happening with their bodies. Having a gynecologist who can become a confidant could increase their confidence during a time they could probably use a boost.