Your First Gynecological Exam: When to Schedule Your First Gynecological Exam and What to Expect

Welcome to Partners in Women’s Healthcare. Many young women, and parents, wonder when they should begin to see a gynecologist, also referred to as a GYN. As a general rule, young women should see a gynecologist by the time they turn 21. However, many women decide to see a gynecologist earlier than that age, due to problems with their menstrual periods (irregularity, heavy bleeding, or cramping), vaginal infections, or because they are sexually active and need birth control.

The first appointment with a gynecologist can be scary and intimidating for many young ladies. The staff here at Partners in Women’s Healthcare does everything we can to provide you with a comfortable atmosphere and a friendly and educational experience. About two weeks before your first appointment you will receive a new patient packet in the mail. This paperwork can also be downloaded from our website. You should bring this completed paperwork, photo ID, insurance card, and any insurance copays with you at the time of your appointment. If you are under 18 years old, you will need to have a parent or guardian with you at the time of your appointment.

When you arrive at the office you can check in and then relax in our waiting rooms until your name is called. At that time, one of the medical assistants (MA) will take you to your room, after first stopping for a height and weight. The MA will often ask you for the first date of your most recent menstrual period. You will then go to a consultation room or office to meet with the physician, nurse practitioner, or nurse midwife. They will review your medical history, allergies, and current medications. They will also be able to discuss with you any issue, concerns, questions, or problems you are having. It is very common to be embarrassed or scared to discuss any subjects involving your body, the changes you may be experiencing, or any sexual activities. If you would like to discuss anything privately with the provider just let them know or feel free to say something to the MA. Any information you share with the provider will remain confidential, unless we are required to report something according to Pennsylvania laws. Our providers have extensive experience and will be happy to answer your questions in a professional and compassionate manor.

You will then move to an exam room where you will be asked to change. Once in the exam room you will receive a general physical exam. This includes things like listening to your heart, lungs or feeling your abdomen. Most patients will also receive a breast exam and an external genital exam to ensure things appear normal. If you are experiencing certain complaints or are sexually active you may also have an internal genital exam performed. This exam includes the use of a speculum to look at the vagina and cervix, as well as what’s called a bimanual exam where the provider will feel your uterus and ovaries with their hands.

During the exam the provider can teach you how to perform a breast self-exam, as well as discuss any recommendations, medication, or self-care behaviors.

Tests that may be collected at your appointment will be determined by what concerns or problems you have that day. The provider may collect a urine sample to test for things like a urinary tract infection or a sexually transmitted disease. You may also require a cervical or vaginal culture. This is done by placing a small Qtip like swab on the area and sending the sample to a lab. Blood work is not often required at your first appointment, but may be needed based on your complaints or concerns. PAP smears, a test to detect cervical cancer, and precancerous changes, begin at age 21 for all women.

We hope you find your first experience with Partners in Women’s Healthcare to be welcoming and educational.

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (2015 March). Your First Gynecological Visit (Especially For Teens (FAQ 150 PDF). Retrieved from