Girl Talk: The Talk

If you have adolescents or teenagers, you’ve no doubt noticed things have changed since you were that age.

If you have adolescents or teenagers, you’ve no doubt noticed things have changed since you were that age.

Back then, certain things just weren’t discussed — in “polite company” or otherwise. Some parents remember when even married couples on TV were shown sleeping in twin beds. Today, it seems that anything goes — at least in the virtual world of television and the Internet.

Parents today do more than simply hand their child a sex-education book and hope for the best.

Today, what’s recommended is more open communication between parents and teens, according to S. Paige Hertweck, M.D., a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist with Norton Children’s Hospital Gynecology Specialists.

Hertweck’s office encourages parents to take their daughters to their first gynecology appointment between ages 13 and 15, in keeping with recommendations by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The first visit does not have to include a pelvic exam, unless there are strong reasons to indicate one is necessary. The main goal of the visit is for health promotion, education and screening, and to give teens the chance to establish a relationship with a gynecological health care provider.

If 13 sounds young, take note that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that girls have a first gynecology appointment between ages 11 and 15.

A lot of parents probably feel clueless about exactly what’s going on with their teenagers, because, even when they have a good relationship, teenagers often don’t tell their parents everything, Hertweck said.

Seeing a pediatric or adolescent gynecologist, rather than the same one Mom visits, can be beneficial because these physicians specialize in gynecological care for girls and teens, and understand how to communicate with children, teens and parents on sensitive topics.

This subject is the focus of the next Girl Talk mother-daughter class, which will be led by one of Norton Healthcare’s pediatric gynecology specialists.

Topics will include physical and emotional changes girls go through during puberty, good nutrition, and healthy lifestyle habits. It will be a good opportunity to ask questions about what’s involved with a first gynecological visit — something mothers may be nervous about, just as their daughters may be.


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