Gynecological exams are valuable to adolescents in many ways. It is important for young women to be assessed early, especially if they are sexually active, and to begin a relationship with a doctor that may guide them through many important milestones in their lives. The adolescent gynecologist provides wellness consultations for adolescents with a goal of establishing a bond of trust and confidence with each patient. Adolescent gynecology is a subspecialty of obstetrics and gynecology, or OB/GYN.
Adolescent Gynecological Exam
A typical adolescent exam includes a consultation, a full medical assessment and a minimally invasive exam. Annual pelvic exams and pap smears are recommended for all women over the age of 18, but younger patients may receive a modified exam. If the patient is not sexually active, a pelvic exam may not be required. A gynecological exam may be overwhelming for a teenager. The doctor will carefully and thoroughly explain the exam process. Patients will have the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns about their bodies as they enter adulthood. The doctors are especially sensitive with younger patients and provide special care and confidentiality to these patients.
Some gynecologic problems we treat that are common among teens include:
- Menstrual irregularities & missed periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Menstrual cramps
- Pelvic and abdominal pain
- Delayed first period
- Breast lumps
- Uneven breast growth
- Vaginal discharge
- Excessive hair growth
Adolescent Menstrual Development
Menstrual development is an important aspect of gynecological care for adolescent girls. This may involve taking a history of the patient’s start of menstruation, the duration and frequency of periods or in some cases, the absence of menstruation. Adolescent girls go through puberty and begin menstruation at different times. Some begin menstruation as early as 9 or 10 years old, while others may not have their first periods until their teen years. This may depend on a number of factors, including genetics and ethnicity. Changing hormone levels during puberty can also affect the length and regularity of the menstrual cycle. As a result, it can be a stressful and scary time for the adolescent girl.
Adolescent Gynecological Conditions
There are several common health conditions that the adolescent gynecologist may assess and treat:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
In addition, an adolescent gynecologist may diagnose and treat sexually transmitted diseases, as well as discuss issues such as contraception, breast care, and safe sexual practices.