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The Be Well Podcast: Women's and Teen Health

Listen in or read the partial transcript below as Grace Bay, DO, discusses everything you need to know about what to expect during your appointment, common questions you may have, how to prepare for a Women's Health exam and more.

Amanda Wilde (Host): Young women considering their first gynecological appointment. Have lots of questions today. We'll walk through the process together with Dr. Grace Bay who practices obstetrics and gynecology at Skagit Regional Health. This is be Well with Skagit Regional Health. I'm Amanda Wilde, Dr. Bay. Thanks for joining us. 

Dr. Grace Bay: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Grace Bay, DO | Skagit Regional Health

Amanda Wilde (Host): Girls are developing, and I mean, reaching puberty earlier and earlier it seems. So at what age is it recommended for young women to have their first gynecology appointment?

Dr. Grace Bay: It's recommended that the first visit with an OB/GYN to be between 13 and 15 years old. However, with that being considered exactly what you're saying, we are seeing women, young girls hitting puberty earlier. So after the start of first menses, I think is a good time to establish. It helps to ensure there's a lot of information out there, and this helps to ensure that patients and parents or guardians have the right information.

Amanda Wilde (Host): So we should really not base it on age as much as first menstrual period. And then a big question that we all wanna know what to expect at that first appointment. Can you walk us through?

Dr. Grace Bay: Yeah, I feel like this is where mostly anxiety comes from because anytime somebody thinks about going to the gynecologist, they expect a pelvic exam. And in the vast majority of cases, your first visit is not going to involve a pelvic exam. The first visits primarily just a conversation between the patient and the provider where you can find out what to expect, what's going to happen at future visits, and getting information about how to stay healthy.

You can ask questions about your body growing up, sex. Your provider will typically ask a lot of questions about you and your family. These questions may seem personal, such as questions about your period or sexual activities, but this information's important for the provider so that they know how to best care for you. So first visit you can expect a discussion, and then typically a general examination. So head to toe, heart, lungs, pushing on the belly, but not a pelvic examination unless you're having a specific concern.

Amanda Wilde (Host): Now, why is it important for teens to establish OB/GYN care at this age?

Dr. Grace Bay: It's important because there's a lot of changes going on in teens lives at that time. And again, with there being so much information out there right now, it's hard to know which information is accurate. So having that one-on-one visit with a healthcare provider ensures that you're getting the most accurate information.

Amanda Wilde (Host): And who else should be present at that visit? if the child is minor, should the parent be present?

Dr. Grace Bay: So for that visit, I do typically recommend that either a friend or a family member comes with the patient. However, with that being said, at some point during the appointment, the provider will ask that your support person step out so that the more personal questions can be asked and that patients feel more comfortable with providing that information. That information's going to be kept confidential. The only time when this information would be shared is if there were a direct concern for the patient's wellbeing.

To listen to the podcast or read the full transcript, visit here.