You have choices when it comes to your family’s healthcare. These options can make for difficult decisions about which type of doctor to see for which reason. One such decision is whether your daughter should see her pediatrician or a gynecologist. Though each has their own specialties, choosing the right practitioner isn’t as straightforward as you might think.
Choosing Gynecology or Family Medicine
Gynecology and Family Medicine can both provide preventative health exams and screen for disease. How do you choose which one for your daughter to see?
Choose a Pediatrician When She Has:
- A chronic medical condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or chronic pain that requires medication or regular lab work.
- An acute condition that may need antibiotics, like ear infections, strep throat, or upper respiratory symptoms.
- New pain or a recent injury.
Choose a Gynecology Provider When She Has:
- Questions or concerns about her reproductive system, including breasts, uterus, ovaries, and vulva. Sometimes, issues with the reproductive system can cause urological or gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Questions or issues with menstruation, pregnancy, fertility, or contraception.
- Sexual health concerns, including libido, pain, or abuse.
- Need for preventative exams or screenings.
Pediatrics and Gynecology have an overlap in the services they provide to young women. This includes birth control, thyroid disorders, and mood changes. If your child is experiencing one of these issues, start with whichever practitioner she feels most comfortable with. They can guide you to another specialty if they are not able to address her concerns.
When Should Girls See a Gynecology Provider?
During late childhood and adolescence (11- to 18-years-old), a girl could see a pediatrician or a gynecology provider. Many of her health care needs can be addressed by her pediatric provider. In some instances, it would be appropriate for her to see a gynecology provider. These include:
- Delayed puberty (no breast tissue changes before 14)
- Delayed menarche (no menstrual cycles before 16)
- Menstrual cycles that are painful and cause her to miss school or activities
- Unable to use a tampon
- Sexual health concerns
- Contraceptive needs
When Should Girls Begin Pap Smears?
Many parents are confused about when their daughters should begin getting Pap smear screenings. A Pap smear is a test that checks the cervix for cells that could turn into cervical cancer. Recommendations have changed over the last decade. The current recommendation is to begin Pap smear screening at 21. Sexual activity and birth control needs don’t impact that recommendation.
Sometimes, girls and women under 21 may need a pelvic exam (an evaluation of the genitalia). A Pap smear screening will not take place during the exam. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is another way to prevent cervical cancer. It protects against the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer. This vaccine is recommended for teens of both sexes.
Whether your child needs a pediatrician or a gynecology provider, we’ve got her covered. Schedule an appointment today.