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When Should I Bring My Older Teen Daughter in For Her First Pap Smear?

Pap smears are an essential part of every woman's health. They allow us to screen for cell changes that could indicate cervical cancer. The earlier we find cervical cancer, the easier it is for us to treat it, but when should Pap smears begin?

Dr. John Paul Roberts is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who offers a range of women's health services, including Pap smears. When it comes to getting a Pap smear, Dr. Roberts follows the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines.

You want to protect your teen daughter at any cost, especially when it comes to her health. Learn when a trip to the gynecologist for a Pap smear is necessary.

The facts on a Pap smear

A Pap smear is an essential preventive screening measure for women. The test looks for abnormal cell changes in the cervix that could indicate cervical cancer or might develop into cancer.

It’s a simple test that Dr. Roberts performs during an annual well-woman exam. He inserts a speculum into the vagina to look at the cervix. He then inserts a tiny swab to collect cells. He places the swab in a specimen tube and sends it to a lab for screening. 

Dr. Roberts may also perform an HPV test to determine if your daughter has the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus can lead to cellular changes within the cervix, which could turn into cancer.

Most women receive their Pap results within a week. If your results are normal, you may not need another test for several years. But Dr. Roberts may require further testing or procedures if the results are abnormal.

Does my daughter need a Pap smear?

Your teen daughter requires many health screenings and tests, but a Pap smear isn't one of them. Generally, Dr. Roberts doesn't suggest older teens get a Pap smear until age 21, as long as they're healthy and don't develop any vaginal issues.

According to the ACOG, women should get their initial Pap test at age 21. If your teenage daughter has reproductive health problems or becomes sexually active, she may need a Pap test sooner.

Dr. Roberts discusses your daughter's personal history to determine if she needs a Pap smear before age 21.

What happens at your daughter’s first OB/GYN visit?

We recommend that your teen daughter come in for her first OB/GYN visit between ages 16 and 18. The timing depends on several factors, including when she hits puberty and if any issues arise before that age.

Well-woman exams are essential to your teen's health, especially as she ages. These yearly exams allow Dr. Roberts to talk to your teen about her vaginal health and spot any issues before they become bigger problems.

Your daughter's first well-woman exam may consist of talking with Dr. Roberts about her health, menstrual cycle, and any concerns. She won't need an internal pelvic exam unless she's experiencing issues like heavy menstrual bleeding or an irregular vaginal discharge.

Call our Plano, Texas, office today at 972-591-8540 to schedule your daughter's first OB/GYN visit or request a consultation via this website.

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