Photo: Getty Images
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends teenage girls see a gynecologist between the ages of 13 to 15. It’s important for young women to undergo routine gynecological exams because they may be vulnerable to cervical infection since the surface of their cervixes contains relatively immature, less resistant cells. Early detection and treatment can lessen future problems.
Women and girls should definitely visit a gynecologist if they are considering being sexually active or already are. Being sexually active is not limited to vaginal intercourse and may include oral sex, anal sex, or other intimate acts. It is important to see a doctor at this time because he or she can answer any questions about different birth control options, prescribe birth control, and test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
After a woman has had sex with a partner, it’s important for her to have a full gynecological exam at least every three years. Depending on her personal health history, her gynecologist may recommend she have an exam every year.
And of course, if a woman has problems with her reproductive system, she should see her gynecologist regardless of age. These problems include any unusual and/or persistent vaginal discharge or odor; bleeding between periods; bleeding after sexual intercourse and pain or discomfort in the vagina, lower abdomen, or when urinating. If a woman’s periods are very irregular, even after the first year or two, or if they are overly long or painful, it’s wise to consider seeing a gynecologist.
Regular gynecological checkups are the number one way to detect problems early. Your doctor can help make sure your reproductive system is working the way it should. He or she can also answer any questions about the female body, how the reproductive system works, and menstrual periods.
In order to obtain the most accurate results from your gynecological exam, the best time to schedule it is one or two weeks after your period. It’s particularly important not to douche for at least two or three days before visiting the gynecologist.