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. We provide wellness consultations for adolescents with a goal of establishing a bond of trust and confidence with each patient. Our doctors promise to provide special care and confidentiality to their younger patients.
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. As a gynecological exam may be overwhelming for a teenager, our doctors 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. Our doctors are especially sensitive with their younger patients and want to develop a long lasting relationship based on trust.
Contraception is any method used to prevent pregnancy. For adolescents and young women who want to have protected sex and not get pregnant, contraception is the strongest protection available. There are many contraceptive options available, including oral contraceptives, condoms, vaginal rings, progestin shots, diaphragms and more. Our physicians can discuss the advantages, disadvantages and effectiveness of each, as well as whether a method provides protection from sexually transmitted diseases. This guidance can help young patients make an informed decision as to which method is best suited to their needs.
Adolescent Development (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. Our staff is happy to answer any questions our young patients may have and help educate them on the subject.
Certain types of problems are common in adolescent girls shortly after they begin menstruation, such as experiencing excessive bleeding with periods. Often caused by changing or imbalanced hormone levels, a gynecological examination and discussion of symptoms with the doctor can help determine a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for painful menstrual periods. While some discomfort is normal during menstruation, excessive pain is not. An adolescent girl with dysmenorrhea may experience severe cramps, backache, headache, dizziness and nausea. Treatment often includes the use of anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen for the first few days of menstruation.
Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when the lining of the uterus, known as endometrium, moves out of the uterus and into other parts of the pelvic area such as the ovaries, bowels or behind the uterus. This common problem among adolescents and young women may cause cramping, back and pelvic pain, heavy periods and infertility. Endometriosis can be diagnosed through an ultrasound or MRI. There is no cure for the disease, but symptoms can be treated depending on their type and severity.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects the ovaries and is the leading cause of infertility in women. Its symptoms can include irregular or absent periods, excessive body hair, acne, pelvic pain and obesity. To diagnose this condition, a blood test or ultrasound may be needed. There is no cure for PCOS, but treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms and preventing long-term damage.
Breast exams are physical and visual inspections of the breasts. They are an important part of an adolescent’s checkup because breast exams can help identify any unusual lumps or suspicious growths around the breasts. In addition, patients will learn at a young age how to perform these exams at home every month in order to recognize any changes on their own. Breast exams can be a very useful tool for the early diagnosis of breast cancer.
Patients may be asked to place their arm in several positions during the exam to ensure the doctor can see the bare breast from various angles. For the physical portion of the exam, the doctor will rotate his or her fingers around the entire breast, applying changing levels of pressure to feel areas near the surface as well as deeper within the breast. Both breasts will be examined.
Vaccination discussions are becoming an important part of the gynecologic visit in adolescent patients. Gardisil, a vaccination for the 6, 11, 16 and 18 strands of the human papilloma virus (HPV) is now available.