What should a teenager expect at her first OB/GYN visit?
Often, your first gynecological exam will not include a pelvic exam. Instead, it serves as a chance to develop a relationship with Dr. Bui. You can expect to talk about sexual health, development, and lifestyle habits that affect wellness.
If you’re having irregular or abnormal periods, serious cramping, or are sexually active, you may undergo a pelvic exam. During this exam, you lie on an exam table in a hospital gown, with your feet in stirrups. The doctor will use a speculum — a metal device — to help open the walls of the vagina and get a better look at your cervix.
If you’re sexually active, she may talk with you about birth control and perform a Pap smear to test for certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and cervical cancer. A Pap smear involves a quick, light swab of your cervix to gather cells. You’ll also undergo a brief breast exam.
What makes a period irregular?
When you first start to menstruate, it’s normal to skip months, alternate between light flows and heavy flows, and to have light spotting between cycles. Your normal, predictable cycle usually establishes a full one to two years after your first period.
If you don’t establish a relatively predictable pattern after 3 years, or if you skip periods after having normal periods for several months, you should be examined by Dr. Bui. Periods that happen more often than every 24 days or are longer than 38 days apart may also be a reason to visit the doctor.
The age at which you get your first period varies. Some girls start to menstruate at 9 or 10 years old, while others may not begin until in their middle or late teens. Do consult a doctor if you haven’t had your first period by age 15.
What should I expect during PMS?
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is common, and many girls and women experience it to some degree. Symptoms include:
- Sore Breasts
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Food cravings
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
You’ll experience these symptoms in the week or so leading up to your period, and once your period starts, the symptoms fade.
PMS likely occurs due to changes in hormone levels. Some girls are lucky enough to barely notice any symptoms, while others can feel quite uncomfortable. Talk to Dr. Bui if your PMS symptoms often interfere with your daily activities.