Gynecologic and Sexuality-Related Care of Female Adolescents and Young Adults
The doctors at Adolescent-Young Adult Medicine (AYAM) are specialists in providing developmentally-sensitive gynecologic and sexuality-related health care for adolescents girls and young adult women.
Our youngest patients (pre-teens and early adolescents):
- are experiencing accelerated growth in height and weight and the onset of pubertal maturation
- often wonder what is normal, what to expect, or worry about their body image
Menarche (the first period):
- occurs toward the end of puberty, for most girls between ages 11 and 14
Early menstrual cycles (the first few years):
- are often characterized by irregular and sometimes heavy bleeding which may require treatment
Later menstrual cycles:
- are more likely to be accompanied by menstrual cramps (sometimes severe) and/or premenstrual symptoms (PMS) which may benefit from treatment
“Physiologic” vaginal discharge:
- is normal and precedes the first period by months or more, but many girls worry they may have a vaginal infection (“vaginitis”).
- is a vaginal infection characterized by a discharge accompanied by itching, foul odor, unusual color, burning or irritation and requires a specific diagnosis and treatment.
Even a young adolescent can develop a lump in her breast:
- which is likely to be a benign cyst or fibrous growth
- although breast cancer in adolescents is extraordinarily rare, any lump should be checked out
We are especially skilled in performing a girl’s first gynecologic (pelvic) examination:
- always done with time for explanation and reassurance
- a first gynecologic exam is done to evaluate a medical problem, or for screening purposes soon after the onset of sexual activity
- if not already done, we recommend annual gynecologic exams for all our patients by age 21
Age-appropriate discussions regarding sexuality are initiated with all of our patients:
- sexuality-related conversations may pertain to relationships, intimacy, sexual and gender identity and preference
- counseling regarding contraception and sexually transmitted infections
Gynecologic care also includes:
- selection and prescribing of contraception
- routine screening and, if needed, treatment for a sexually transmitted infection
- diagnosis and treatment of a vaginal or urinary tract infection
At our office, the gynecologic and sexuality-related care of our pre-teen, adolescent and young adult patients is a routine part of their health care. Our hope is that by beginning to talk about these issues at a young age, our patients will, over time, become increasingly more at ease addressing their concerns, questions and needs with us.