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Ask Dr. K

What is it like to have my first physical? I am 15. I started my period when I was 11 and I get really bad cramps and vomiting and diarrhea. I miss school every month because of it. Should I tell him this and what would he do?

Yes, please discuss your symptoms with your doctor at your exam. There are a lot of different ways to reduce the symptoms of an uncomfortable period. Your doctor may refer you to a gynecologist, but most doctors now have many ways to make sure women are comfortable during their menstrual cycles.

If you are sexually active, tell your doctor that as well, as there may be important STD tests that you should get so you stay sexually healthy.

During the exam, the doctor may look at your mouth, ears, skin and breasts, and listen to your heart or lungs. A gynecological exam (internal vaginal exam) is not necessarily indicated unless you have any specific complaints about your vagina. Some doctors may want to do a Pap smear, that is, sample the cervix for abnormal cells and that would require an internal exam.

During an internal exam, the doctor will ask you to lie back on the table and rest your feet in foot rests that raise your legs. He will then look at your vagina for any sores or lesions, then use a plastic or metal speculum -- kind of like a shoe horn -- to spread the vaginal lips to look at the cervix. He may use large Q-tip swabs to sample the fluid. After the speculum is removed, he may use one or two fingers (with gloves and lube) to feel inside your vagina and feel the ovaries and tubes. The exam itself is quick and need not be scary or uncomfortable. We do annual exams and first time exams at City Clinic for San Francisco residents, aged 12 and over.

To your health,
Dr. K

Last modified on Tuesday, June 03, 2008.
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