Your teenage years are a time when your body develops in many ways, including menstruation and hormonal changes. Going through the teenage years and becoming a mature adult can be an exciting process. It is also a time to make sure you are menstruating in a healthy way and take steps to stay in good reproductive health. At South Lake OBGYN in Clermont, FL, our gynecology department is here to support your health and help you feel comfortable.
What Is Gynecology?
Providing Care for Women
Gynecologists are doctors who provide women’s care by answering questions, performing examinations, and treating abnormalities. Menstruation, hormonal balance, injuries to the reproductive organs, chronic conditions like endometriosis, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are all within their scope of treatment.
Providing Routine Check-Ups
Throughout your life, it is important to have routine visits to your gynecologists and to set up special appointments if you develop any concerning symptoms pertaining to your reproductive organs or your menstrual cycle (especially if you believe you might be pregnant). Your gynecologist can monitor your health, help you prevent serious conditions, and provide treatment if necessary.
The good news is that the vast majority of visits to the gynecologist just serve to check that you are healthy. When looking for diseases or abnormalities, your gynecologist will most likely find that everything is ok. That is why when test results come back without showing any disease, they are referred to as “normal”. In the event that you do have a condition that needs to be addressed, you can feel proud that you got examined and set yourself up for proper treatment. Most conditions are 100% treatable, especially when caught early.
Treating a Variety of Conditions
Your gynecologist can help if you have pain, if you think you might be pregnant, if you need to take steps to stay in good sexual health, or if you have a chronic condition pertaining to your reproductive organs. Among many other things, they can:
- Diagnose and treat conditions pertaining to the menstrual cycle such as menstrual discomfort or excessive bleeding
- Check your reproductive organs externally and internally for signs of injuries or abnormalities
- Treat yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Determine whether you are pregnant
- Help you maintain a healthy hormonal balance
- Treat hormonal issues that cause acne
- Monitor weight fluctuations
- Prescribe birth control
- Answer questions regarding sexual health
- Test for STIs, certain cancers, and other chronic conditions
- Give you vaccinations against HPV (human papillomavirus) and other diseases
- Provide treatment in the case of an emergency, an ongoing condition or an abnormal test result
Specific Care for Adolescents
The focus of your appointments with your gynecologist will change with the different stages of your life. For teenagers who are not sexually active, the focus is usually on treating any problems that might arise with the menstrual cycle and the hormonal changes that take place during the teenage years. During your first visit, your gynecologist will ask you about the date of your first period.
If you don’t get your period within 3 years after your breasts begin to develop, you should see your gynecologist. You should also let him or her know if you miss a period for more than 3 months in a row, if you have severe pain, if your period does not come in a 21 to 35 day cycle, or if you need to change your pad or tampon frequently. Most women don’t need to change a pad or tampon more than every two hours.
What Happens During Your First Visit to a Gynecologist?
When you see a gynecologist for the first time, he or she will bring you to a private room where you can feel comfortable. If you wish, you can have a family member go with you for any part of the appointment or for the entire time. You will be left to undress and change into a robe.
You and Your Gynecologist Will Get to Know Each Other
When your gynecologist comes back, he or she will ask you questions about your first menstruation, your family history, and your sexual activity. Don’t worry about discussing intimate details. Your answers are confidential and your gynecologist needs truthful answers to provide you with the best care.
You should also ask some questions. The first conversation you have with your gynecologist is a great time to get information about your menstruation, feminine hygiene, and your reproductive organs. If you have any concerns relating to your body or your moods, you should bring them up.
Your Gynecologist Will Perform a Physical Exam
There are two exams done to make sure you are in good health. During the physical exam, your gynecologist will measure your height, weight, and blood pressure.
During the external genital exam, he or she will use latex gloves to examine your vulva. This exam is very quick and shouldn’t take more than five minutes. If you want, you can request to hold a mirror to see what is happening and to learn about your body.
The Pelvic Exam and the Pap Smear
The pelvic exam and the Pap smear are two tests that involve an internal examination of your vagina. They are usually not performed during your first visit to a gynecologist, but it is a good idea to understand them, just in case. They are recommended for patients over the age of 21, for people who are sexually active, and for people who present abnormal symptoms.
The Pelvic Exam
During the pelvic exam, your gynecologist will check your vulva and the inside of your vagina with gloved hands and a speculum. A speculum is a medical instrument that fits into your vagina to keep it open. Speculums come in several different sizes to be as comfortable as possible, and while they can feel a little strange, they do not cause any pain. Usually, the speculum only needs to be inserted in your vagina for about one minute.
During part of the exam, your doctor will place one gloved hand inside your vagina and the other hand on your stomach to feel your organs. This is a fast way to check for any abnormalities.
The Pap Smear
The purpose of a Pap smear is to take a sample from your cervix to test for cancer. Your cervix is the place inside you where the top of your uterus meets your vagina. The Pap smear is done with a speculum and a special brush that takes a few cells for testing. While you will feel the speculum and the brush, they will not cause any pain. Like the other routine exams, the Pap smear takes less than five minutes.
How to Prepare for Your First Visit
When you go in for your appointment, the most important thing is for you to feel comfortable. Most likely, you will be scheduled for about 20 minutes or half an hour. There are a few things that you can do to make the most of this time.
Prepare Your Information
Your gynecologist will ask you about the date of your first period, so it is a good idea to keep that information on hand. Don’t worry if you don’t have the exact date. You can provide your best guess. If you can, it’s a good idea to write down the dates of your periods leading up to your appointment, as well as how you felt during your period, how often you need to change your pad or tampon, and how many days your period lasted.
If you want, you can also gather some information about your family history. If you have information about your mother or older sisters’ health, your gynecologist might want to put it in your record. This is especially important if you or your family members have a history of any chronic illness.
Schedule in the Middle of Your Menstrual Cycle
If you are menstruating on the day of your appointment, your gynecologist will not be able to examine you effectively. As best you can, be aware of when you usually menstruate and schedule your appointment to avoid that time.
Shower and Get Dressed as Usual
There is nothing special that you need to do to get ready for your appointment. Shower, but avoid using any creams or products on your vagina. It is a good idea to avoid inserting anything inside your vagina for two days prior to your appointment. During this lead-up time, you should also avoid having sex if you are sexually active.
Don’t Worry About Your Appearance
It is normal to feel self-conscious about your body. It is also normal to feel perfectly comfortable. However you feel going into your first appointment, understand that your gynecologist is not judging you on the appearance of your vagina or any other aspect of your body. Don’t worry about your pubic hair or the proportions of your vulva. Gynecologists examine women every day, and they are only thinking about the health of their patients.
Don’t Worry About Discussing Personal Information
During your appointment, you and your gynecologist might talk about things that you usually keep private. You will probably discuss:
- Your menstrual cycle
- Your moods and feelings
- Your weight
- Alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes (if you use or have used them)
- Your sexual activity (if you are sexually active or have been before)
Everyone talks about these things with their gynecologist, and it is perfectly normal to be truthful and give details. Your gynecologist will not judge you on your answers to any of his or her questions.
What Happens After Your Visit
During your visit, your gynecologist will give you some information that can help you stay healthy. After your visit, you should remember these instructions and make them part of your routine. If any tests were sent to a lab during your visit, you will receive an email or a phone call notifying you of the results. Results usually take one day to two weeks to come in.
Sometimes, if the results are normal, your gynecologist won’t follow up. You can ask whether you will receive a notification or not. If you prefer to be notified in any case, you should let your gynecologist know.
The Importance of Your First Visit to a Gynecologist
As you become an adult, you will have more and more responsibility when it comes to your health. Going to your first appointment with a gynecologist means you are taking an important step towards caring for yourself. Throughout your life, you will schedule routine check-ups at the gynecology department as well as special appointments when something makes you feel unwell. The purpose of gynecology is to give you the information and medical support you need to stay in your best health.
Contact South Lake OBGYN in Clermont, FL for more information about gynecology and to schedule your first appointment. We are proud to provide attentive, confidential care for you.