By Rochelle D. Wilburn, M.D.
Obstetrics/Gynecology, Rush Copley Medical Group
Starting your daughter on the road to regular gynecological visits is important. Routine care is the best way to help prevent and detect breast cancer, cervical cancer and a host of other life threatening conditions that women face.
During her exam, a gynecologist will talk to her about how to take care of her changing body, her monthly period, how to tell if she has a vaginal infection, why abstinence is the healthiest choice, and how to protect herself from sexually transmitted diseases if she is sexually active. During the visit, a gynecologist will also check height, weight, and blood pressure and conduct the following exams:
Breast exam — It is common for young women to have some lumpiness in their breasts, but a breast exam will be conducted to make sure there are no strange lumps or pain. The physician will also teach her how to conduct monthly selfbreast exams, a practice that she should do the rest of her life.
Pelvic exam — The physician will examine inside of the pelvic area to make sure her reproductive organs are healthy. The outside of the genital area will be checked and a tool called a speculum will be used to look inside the vagina to see the cervix. Finally, the gynecologist will feel inside to make sure the internal organs feel okay.
Pap test — If someone is 21 or older or within three years of their first sexual experience, a Pap test will be done. This test is done to make sure the cells in the cervix are normal. The physician will swab the cervix during the pelvic exam to gather cells that can be looked at on a slide at a lab.
By explaining what will happen at an exam, you will help ease your daughter’s concerns and teach her the importance of regular care.