Dr. Lisa Tufankjian, RWJ Center for Women’s Health, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton

Concerned about your health? Experts from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton are ready to answer readers’ questions. Send your questions to askthedoc@rwjuhh.edu.

My daughter is 14. When should she have her first GYN appointment, and what can I do to prepare her? I think she will be a little nervous about it.

Your daughter is at an appropriate age for her first gynecological appointment. In fact, many young girls have their first appointment when they are between 13 and 15. While the experience can be a little nerve-racking for the both of you, we believe it’s a good way to build a relationship and engage in conversations about safe and healthy habits.

If either of you are concerned about examinations during the first appointment, keep in mind that they are adjusted and determined based on the needs of the patient. For example, most young women who are having regular periods and aren’t reporting any problems don’t need to have a Pap test until they turn 21.

The first appointment may just include a general physical exam with some one-on-one time for questions and answers. This includes a discussion about menstruation—the date of her last period; how long it lasts; if it is light, medium or heavy; and if she experiences cramping. The patient’s age, development and whether or not she is sexually active can determine if she needs to have a breast exam or other tests done.

Many teens often want confirmation on what is normal and what to expect as far as their changing bodies, so encourage your daughter to bring her list of questions. Tell her the appointment is confidential and that you will not be present in the room unless she would like you there.

Finally, just reassure your daughter that everything will be OK. As I mentioned, our providers are sensitive to young patients’ needs and will make a special effort to explain aspects of care as well as any procedures, if needed.

— Dr. Lisa Tufankjian, RWJ Center for Women’s Health, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton

This content is intended to encourage a healthy lifestyle. For medical advice and treatment, see a physician.