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Dr. Mary Ann Pelino and Dr. Aminah Bliss Discuss OBGYN Care From Teens To Adulthood

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Dr. Mary Ann Pelino and Dr. Aminah Bliss, both OBGYN physicians, discuss when teenage girls should have their first visit and first exams and remind women to come annually for a routine visit.

EmpowHER Correspondent:
It seemed like yesterday. She was just a baby visiting the pediatrician, but as they grow, their health needs change. So when is the right time for a girl to visit the gynecologist and what can be expected?

We talked to the doctors of Plaza-Towers Obstetrics and Gynecology to find out what every mom and teenage girl needs to know.

Dr. Mary Ann Pelino:
Mothers, or my own patients, ask me about their 9, 10, 11, 15-year-old and I recommend just seeing the patients earlier before they are my patients just to get a familiarity and again, establish a relationship and just talk about things like brushing your teeth everyday, you know, and just hygienic and just prevention and just so that they have a relationship before there’s this actual fear of evil doctor.

EmpowHER Correspondent:
And while the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that a girl’s visit to a gynecologist happen between 13 and 15 years of age, the time when a girl should have her first exam varies.

Dr. Aminah Bliss:
I would say around age 18 or first sexual experience.

EmpowHER Correspondent:
From there, frequency of visits can vary based on personal needs.

Dr. Aminah Bliss:
Every year, unless you’re having any issues, in which case you can come as often as necessary; I have some patients that come every few months or following them for an ovarian cyst, for example, or irregular bleeding or they just started a new birth control, I will want to see them sooner; a month or two after we have made a change in their plan of care. For routine care, every year would be sufficient.

EmpowHER Correspondent:
And Dr. Bliss says there are some things you can expect at every annual visit.

Dr. Aminah Bliss:
When a woman comes in we will check her vital signs, her blood pressure, her weight, we will talk about her overall health, get a sense of her medical history, and then I will basically start with the exam. We’ll do a breast exam. I will do a pelvic exam and then a PAP smear.

The PAP smear will cover cervical cancer, HPV, cervical pre-cancer, cervical dysplasia. I mean, we can also check for STDs as well on a PAP smear. A pelvic exam will help us for ovarian cancer to see if a patient has ovarian cysts or any nodularity or endometriosis.

We can also do a rectal exam as well to check for endometriosis or patients complaining of any irregular bleeding, that will help us as well. So those are the main things that we are checking for.

EmpowHER Correspondent:
And the importance of this exam can’t be underestimated.

Dr. Aminah Bliss:
It’s absolutely critical. There are many conditions that if left unchecked, could actually become worse quickly and I know there’s a lot of things in the media about how women don’t need to come for two to three years to get a PAP smear, which in certain cases I can understand. However, women do need an annual exam. So even if that does not include a PAP smear because their doctor said,
“Oh, they’ve been negative for HPV and they don’t need a PAP every year,” they still do need an annual exam by a gynecologist.

EmpowHER Correspondent:
For more information to empower you and your loved ones’ health, visit EmpowHER.com.

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