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Early-adolescent visits are a smart idea.

THE AMERICAN COLLEGE of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that the first reproductive health visit occur between the ages of 13 and 15, and I agree with them. Often patients attending this appointment don't have physical complaints, and we can focus on prevention and education. The visit can be about building the provider-patient relationship and may serve to ease fears and develop trust before visits for problem management.

There are a number of important health education topics to cover from puberty and menses to confidentiality and minor-access laws. Because many young people will begin to initiate romantic relationships during middle school, the topic of healthy relationships is critical. Unhealthy relationships, in their many forms, can have far reaching impacts on a young person's health and wellness. For years, we've been talking with young people about preventing STIs or preventing unwanted pregnancy, but we've spent less energy working towards something.

I'm excited to see these recommendations and look forward to helping my younger patients think through relationships as important aspects of life and health, what they want from them, and how they can work toward them.

Melissa Kottke, MD is an obstetrician-gynecologist specializing in family planning and adolescent reproductive health at Emory University in Atlanta.

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Title Annotation:VIEW ON THE NEWS
Author:Kottke, Melissa
Publication:Family Practice News
Date:Nov 1, 2018
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