Do I absolutely have to see a gynecologist at a certain age now that I’m a teen?

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When to have a gynecologic exam depends on whether there are any health problems such as vaginal infections, lack of menstrual periods, or other symptoms that need evaluation. Your first Pap test is recommended for age 21. No matter what, you should see your primary care provider every year for a check-up. While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that young women see a gynecologist when they are between 13-15 years, an adolescent specialist, nurse practitioner, or your primary care provider can also do this exam. The reason for this visit is to answer any questions that you might have such as concerns about your period, vaginal discharge, or about your female organs. Part of the exam often includes “looking” at your vulva (the area around your vagina) to make sure everything looks healthy. It is also a time for your provider to explain the names and function of your female parts. It is always important to talk to your provider before you become sexually active to discuss safe sex and birth control. Testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can be done with urine samples.