Doctor Liz: The official answer to this question from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is that a woman should have her first cervical Pap test three years after the onset of sexual activity or at age 21, whichever comes first.
I have a couple of problems with this plan.
First, you really cannot be certain at what age your daughter becomes sexually active. I wish I had a dollar for every mother-daughter pair where the mom is sure her daughter is not yet having sex, and then the daughter (after Mom goes to the waiting room) confides in me that she had sex, but didn't tell her mom because she didn't want to disappoint her.
Second, is she using reliable contraception during those three years? Is she using condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections (so she won't be infertile later)? Does she have someone reliable to answer her questions? I know -- hopefully she can turn to her mom, but she may not.
Which brings me to my answer: Unless your daughter has a great pediatrician who is willing and has the time to address adolescent issues, you should bring your daughter to an OB/GYN doctor as a teenager, regardless of whether she is having sex yet. She does not have to have a pelvic exam; she just needs her own doctor if she has a problem, such as with her period, and for a reliable source of information.
|"Doctor Liz" is a gynecologist whose mission is to help women balance hormones, lose weight, and regain health and balance in their lives. She did her undergraduate studies at Cornell University, medical school at UC Irvine, and earned her Master of Public Health degree at UCLA in Health Education. Doctor Liz is in private practice in Laguna Beach, California and is mom to two active boys, ages 8 and 10.|