A lot of kids are seeing their doctors right now for their annual physicals before school starts.
And if you have a teenage daughter, it may be time to schedule a visit with a more specialized doctor -- the gynecologist.
Barbara Vaughan has some advice for when it's time to make that first appointment.
It's probably a little earlier than you think.
It's easy to put on the blinders with this topic, but in tonight's Parenting Project, the reasons why that first visit should come before your daughter becomes sexually active.
Like many women, Jennifer Adiletto paid her first visit to the gynecologist when she was 18.
"The reason why I started going is because when you turn 18, it's considered, like, 'the age," Adiletto says.
But 18 isn't necessarily the best age for all women.
Meena Khandelwal, m.d.
"The first age for a pap smear, is when a patient becomes sexually active or at the age of 18, whichever is sooner," Dr. Meena Khandelwal says. "That's for a pap smear. The first GYN visit should be 13 to 15 years."
This introductory visit serves as a primer on what to expect during future exams. Other subjects range from nutrition to sexual disease prevention.
"When I was, you know, was my turn to go to the doctor, so nervous," Adiletto says. "You know, you don't know who to talk to, where to go."
Her family physician referred her to a gynecologist - one she's been seeing ever since.
"She just talked to me a little bit, you know, about my history... You know, any medications I was taking and things like that," Adiletto says.
Next comes the physical exam, which takes less than five-minutes to complete.
"She had to do a breast examination, and then she did a pelvic exam, and then she had to do the annual pap exam," Adiletto says.
Regular pap exams can catch pre-cancerous cells at an early, treatable stage.
"It was just like okay, bump, you're done, thank you very much," Adiletto says. "She walks out, I put my clothes back on and you know, schedule an appointment for next year."
One exam that can help women stay healthy for life.
Make sure to carefully check out any doctor before your daughter visits because this is a really important relationship -- it's the start of an awareness about her health. And she may very well end up being able to share with her doctor sensitive information that she has trouble discussing with you.