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Gynecological [gy-ni-kol-aw-ji-kol] issues can surface before a young woman reaches puberty. In younger patients, gynecologic issues may present as vaginal pain or infections. In adolescent patients who have reached puberty, symptoms may include pain and irregular menstrual bleeding.

Intermountain Healthcare’s pediatric and adolescent gynecologists are trained to diagnose and treat common gynecologic problems. These problems can include the following:

  • Sudden changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Genital redness and soreness
  • Genital trauma
  • Vaginal discharge with a strange odor or color
  • Infections
  • Endometriosis

It is important that any concerns you or your daughter have are discussed with a healthcare provider. Many common gynecologic problems can be treated with medication, hormone therapy, or surgery. If untreated, these problems could affect your daughter’s ability to have children when she is an adult.

Things You Need to Know

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Cancer Society both recommend that all women have regular Pap tests starting at age 21. The Pap test screens for abnormal cells that may show the presence of human papilloma [pap-uh-loh-muh] virus (HPV). HPV causes most cervical cancers.

The HPV vaccine is effective at preventing the types of HPV infections that cause cancer. The vaccine is a series of two shots given 6-12 months apart. Boys and girls age 9 to 26 can get the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that boys and girls get the vaccine when they are 11 or 12 years old.

When to See a Specialist

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that girls first see a provider for gynecological care when they are between the ages of 13 and 15. This provider will usually be a primary care physician who may send your daughter to a gynecologist if needed. This first visit will generally not involve a pelvic exam. Instead, this is just an opportunity for your daughter to ask questions about her development.

You should contact your daughter’s healthcare provider if she is experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Irregular or painful menstrual periods
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal infections
  • Signs of pregnancy or a positive pregnancy test