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Women should begin getting routine cervical cancer screenings (pap smears) beginning at age 21. Although adolescents do not need pap smears, there are many other health concerns affecting them that can be addressed by our doctors and nurse practitioners. It is recommended that at age 15 to 18 years, a young woman should have an initial visit to discuss routine gynecologic care. This visit is typically just a discussion during which you may bring up any questions that you might have.
We are sensitive to the anxiety that the first exam produces for a young woman. We wish to have this first experience at the gynecologist office to to be a reassuring one, knowing that it begins an important relationship for future health care.
We are well versed in understanding the significant changes that a young woman traverses as her body undergoes the physical changes associated with adolescence. Many times there are questions regarding breast development, onset and patterns of menstruation, as well as changes in skin and hair growth patterns. Our doctors and nurse practitioners will spend time answering these and other questions so as to educate you about your body.
For those teens and young adults who have become sexually active, we have a mission to protect you
against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease (STD). We can discuss the multiple methods
of birth control that are available, to decide which one
is best for you. Teens that are sexually active should
use condoms to prevent pregnancy and STDs. If a condom breaks or if you have sex without a condom,
we can test and treat for STDs.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. There are over 100 types of HPV, most of which are cleared by the immune system and do not cause any problems. However, multiple high risk types are not cleared and can cause genital warts or cervical cancer. Adolescents are encouraged to complete the HPV vaccination series to prevent the most dangerous types of HPV. These vaccines are available at most pediatrician offices, and are ideally administered between the ages of 11 and 12 prior to the onset of sexual activity. Teens that have not yet completed the series are encouraged to do so up to the age of 26, even if they have already had sex or have HPV.
Common to many women, teens can suffer from vaginal infections, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. These are not STDs, but can still cause symptoms such as vaginal discharge, itching, and odor. We can test you for these infections and provide treatment.
Many teens suffer from painful, heavy, or irregular periods. We can discuss any concerns that you may have with your menstrual cycle and often can provide treatment to help with those symptoms. It is important to minimize the impact that such symptoms have on routine day to day activities.