You're 13-20

Ok, what’s the deal?

The changes your body undergoes as you enter your teenage years can be exciting, confusing and a bit scary. From your first appointment (which is really just a chance for us to get to know each other) to deciding on contraception and learning how to be safe, you can count on us to help you make sense of it all and get started down the path of lifelong health.

  • Ahh, womanhood.

  • Do you need a gynecologist?
  • Getting to know you
  • Confidentiality.
  • Next Steps.
  • Do you need a gynecologist?

    Medical organizations like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend establishing care with a gynecology provider around age 13 to 15—and we are happy to see teens during this time or even before. That said, many young women are comfortable with their pediatrician and prefer to receive all of their care from them until they are as old as 19 or 20. This is totally OK, too. The important thing is that you find a provider who is knowledgeable about female health and who you feel comfortable going to with health concerns that are more personal, like puberty, menstruation and sex. Both gynecologists and pediatricians can help you with birth control, the HPV vaccine and screening and prevention of other sexually transmitted infections. If you have a problem that requires a gynecology specialist, such as heavy, irregular or painful periods; cysts or discharge your pediatrician will refer you to one.

  • Getting to know you

    Many young women are anxious about visiting the gynecologist and we get that. Don’t worry. Our goal is to put you at ease so your first visit here is mostly just a chance for us to get to know each other. It usually begins with a conversation with you fully dressed—and you may be able to stay that way for the whole visit. Your provider will ask you basic questions about yourself and your life and give you time to share your concerns and ask any questions you may have. Together, we’ll develop a plan for how best to manage your health. You probably won’t have an internal pelvic exam unless there’s a good reason for it. (Reasons could include unusual discharge when you’ve been sexually active or a lump on the outside of your vagina.)

  • Confidentiality.

    You can talk with your provider about anything. Really. Nothing is off limits. And you can rest assured that your conversations with the provider and your treatment are completely confidential, even if you’re under 18. This means we won’t tell your parents or school anything unless you give us permission to. There is one exception: if we think there is a serious threat to your health, then we will tell your parent or guardian, but we’ll talk with you about this beforehand. Read more about Oregon law regarding minor healthcare confidentiality and consent >

    Many teens come to their visit with a parent. It’s up to you to decide how involved your parent will be in your visit. You can choose to have them in the room for all, part or none of your visit. Most of our providers will ask the mom or other support person to step out of the room for at least some of the visit so you can talk privately. We encourage open communication among all parties, though—and we’re happy to share or help you share the results of the visit with your parent if you’d like us to.

  • Next Steps.

    Talk to your provider about how often they want to see you during your teen years. Behaviors, emotions and bodies can change a lot during this time and they may recommend every one to two years.

A Simple Guide to Screenings and Prevention

Cervical cancer screening
HPV vaccine
STI prevention and screening
Pregnancy prevention
Seasonal flu

Cervical cancer screening

You don’t need a Pap smear—the test that screens for cervical cancer—until age 21, regardless of your sexual activity.

Here’s why >

HPV vaccine

Gardasil 9 protects against the nine different types of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) that are responsible for the majority of cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer in women; penile cancer in men; and anal cancer and mouth and throat cancer in both women and men. If started before age 15, Gardasil 9 is given in two doses six to 12 months apart. If started at age 15 or later, it is given in three doses over six months.

Read more

STI prevention and screening

If you’re sexually active, you should be screened for sexually transmitted infections. Your provider will probably want to talk to you about sex and your safety: protecting yourself from STIs, knowing your partners and not having sex under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He or she may recommend STI screening whenever you have sex with a new partner and/or once a year.

Pregnancy prevention

If you are or may become sexually active with male partners, your provider wants to talk to you about contraception and help you find the best method of birth control for you.

Seasonal flu

Yearly flu vaccine is recommended for teens by the end of October, if possible. Most teens get this at school or the pediatrician’s office, but we’re happy to vaccinate you at your visit if not.

Is This Normal?

Answers you want, questions you may not want to ask

Let's Talk About It

Here are some topics you--or your provider--may bring up

  • 1 Alcohol, tobacco and other drug use

    Alcohol, tobacco and other drug use

    When you take illegal drugs or use legal substances (including prescription medications) too much or the wrong way, you change the way your body and mind work. This can can lead to accidents that cause harm to you or other people, dangerous behaviors that put you or others at risk, disease and addiction. If you or your family are concerned about your alcohol, tobacco or other drug use, talk to your provider. He or she might suggest a referral to one of our behavioral health specialists. Learn more >

  • 2 Body image
  • 3 Relationships

    Relationships

    Relationships are the personal connections and emotional bonds between people that are often formed and strengthened by mutual experiences. They can be family relationships, friendships or romantic relationships. Healthy relationships are free of physical, emotional or sexual threat or abuse. Ideally, they are kind, honest, respectful and emotionally supportive. Talk to your provider if you need help dealing with an unhealthy, stressful or abusive relationship.

  • 4 Vulvar health
  • 5 Contraception
  • 6 Hormones

More Resources for You

CDC.gov

The website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – this is a great resource for vaccination and disease screening and prevention recommendations.

Bedsider

A website about birth control and STDs.

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