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When Should My Teen Daughter Have Her First Pap Smear?

When Should My Teen Daughter Have Her First Pap Smear?

Every woman should see an OB/GYN regularly to prevent reproductive problems and find issues like cervical or breast cancer early on. But when should you begin seeing an OB/GYN for a Pap smear?

Pap smears are an essential preventive care test that can find cervical cancer cells early on – before they can spread to other areas. At The Women's Center at Life Point Medical, Monique Petteys, FNP-C, and her team provide Pap smears and other preventive care treatments for various women's health issues.

Monique is a board-certified family nurse practitioner who helps you determine when your teenage daughter should start having Pap smears for long-term health.

When should my teen see the OB/GYN?

Navigating your teenage daughter's health isn't always easy, especially when she enters puberty. Knowing when to take your daughter to the gynecologist is essential to her future health.

The good news is you don't need to take your daughter to the OB/GYN until she's between the ages of 13 and 15, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  Girls this age don't need a pelvic exam.

During your daughter's first OB/GYN exam, Monique talks to her about her development and asks if she has any questions. The goal of the appointment is to allow your daughter and Monique to develop a relationship for future appointments and needs.

 You may also want to make an appointment with Monique if you think your daughter is sexually active. Other reasons for an OB/GYN appointment for a teen girl include:

Your daughter may not need a pelvic exam until she's sexually active or needs to begin preventive screenings for cervical cancer.

The facts on a Pap smear

A Pap smear is a preventive measure gynecologists use to test for cancerous cervical cells. It's a simple test we do during a pelvic exam to check for changes in cervical cells.

We perform the Pap test during the pelvic exam after inserting the speculum into your vagina. The speculum allows Monique to see into your cervix, where she visually looks for abnormalities.

She then inserts a small brush into the cervix, which she uses to take cell samples. She then puts the brush into a container and sends it to the lab for evaluation.

The Pap smear results come back within a few days to a week. If the test returns normal, your cervical cells are normal. Still, if the test comes back abnormal, it could be signs of cervical cancer or simply abnormal cells from an infection or virus in the cervix.

An abnormal result may require further testing. Monique performs a colposcopy, another type of tissue sample if you have an abnormal Pap smear that shows signs of atypical or cancerous cells.

Does my teen need a Pap smear now?

Your daughter typically doesn't need a Pap smear at her first OB/GYN appointment and may not need one for several years. Even if she's sexually active, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn't recommend a Pap smear until the age of 21.

The risk of cervical cancer in young girls is small compared to older women, even when they're sexually active. The ACOG reports fewer than one in 1,000 cases of cervical cancer in girls between the ages of 15 and 19.

Even if your teen is sexually active and becomes infected with HPV, the body typically eliminates the virus within a year or two. During this time, HPV doesn't cause cellular changes, or the cells return to normal.

The only reason for your teen daughter to get a Pap smear before the age of 21 is if she has gynecological issues or Monique deems there's something wrong that a Pap test could help determine the cause.

To get more information about getting your teen her first OB/GYN appointment, call The Women's Center at Life Point Medical today, or request a consultation using our online scheduling tool.

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