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Women's Health

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What to Expect From an Ob-Gyn Visit

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What to Expect During Ob-Gyn Visits

When should you start seeing an ob-gyn? The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that girls have their first ob-gyn visit when they're 13 to 15 years old or they become sexually active, whichever comes first. The first visit for teens may just include a talk with the doctor and no exam.

Try to avoid having sex or douching within 24 hours of your appointment. Sexual activity could irritate the tissue of the vagina and affect your Pap test results.

Your appointment will usually start with a general health check. The nurse will weigh you and take your blood pressure. You may have blood and urine tests done, too.

Then it's time for the physical exam. The nurse will take you into the exam room and ask you to undress completely. You will be given a gown that opens to the front, and a sheet to cover your lap.

Your ob-gyn will probably start by asking you some general questions about your personal and family health history. A nurse or other health professional might stay in the room with you and the ob-gyn for the pelvic exam.

The doctor will first examine the outside of your vagina, which includes the vulva area and vaginal opening, for abnormalities. The doctor will then examine your reproductive organs from the inside. While your knees are bent and your feet are in stirrups to keep them apart, the gynecologist will use a speculum -- a device that holds the vagina open -- to view the inside of your vagina and cervix (the opening to your uterus). You might feel some pressure during this exam, but it shouldn't be painful. Your ob-gyn will also examine the walls of the vagina and cervix.

A Pap test is often done during the pelvic exam. Your ob-gyn will remove a sample of cells from your cervix using a small brush. Those cells will be sent to a lab and checked for cervical cancer and other abnormalities.

If you are sexually active, the doctor might also test you for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV. To test for STDs, the ob-gyn will take a swab of tissue during the pelvic exam and/or check blood tests.

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