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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that girls see a gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15, although most won't need a Pap smear or internal exam until they are 21. "The primary reason to come so young is to begin to build that doctor-patient relationship," says Toby Genrich, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. "By the time she might be exposed to risky behavior, we already have an established relationship so she will feel more comfortable confiding in me."
While many parents may think of gynecologists only in terms of sexual health, gynecologists also give guidance on other issues, such as healthy eating, smoking, alcohol, self-esteem, and depression or anxiety. "The primary reason for those first visits in the early years is to talk about prevention and education, not just for the adolescent but for the parent as well," Genrich says.
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