Parents never stop being parents. Whether your teen is thirteen years old or nineteen years old, parents always want to be involved with their child’s life and ensure the best for their children. One important aspect of parenting is looking after your child’s health by taking them to doctor visits, but this may cause some anxiety for parents since they may be asked to leave the examination room to protect a teenager’s right to privacy and collect more honest responses during teen doctor visits.
If you are asked to leave the room, we wanted to give you all the information on what happens during your teenager’s routine doctor visit, so you can be well-informed on what kind of health issues you can pay attention to for your teenager.
Vaccinations are essential to protect your teenager from life-threatening diseases. By the age of 13, teens should be vaccinated against or have received vaccines for the following:
- Measles, mumps, and rubella
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis A
- Human Papillomavirus Vaccine
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis booster (Tdap)
Doctors recommend that 11- and 12-year-olds should get the Tdap shot and then once every 10 years after that. Your teen should also receive the COVID-19 vaccine along with the booster shot, and every year, they should get a flu vaccine before the season comes around.
Common Medical Problems
While being a teenager is the picture of youth and health to many, they are not immune to medical complications. If your family has any history of genetic medical conditions, such as heart disease, a primary care provider can look for early signs for any conditions that may develop into something serious and then check up on it every year.
Other common conditions that can be passed down in a family include:
- Birth defects (e.g., spina bifida or a cleft lip)
- Cancer (including breast, ovarian, prostate, colon, or melanoma skin cancer)
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure or cholesterol
- Genetic conditions (e.g., cystic fibrosis or hemophilia)
- Mental illness
- More than three pregnancy losses
Remember, the earlier a doctor catches something serious, the better the chance for successful treatment. This is why it’s important to be aware of your family medical history, be involved with your children’s health, and encourage your teen to answer honestly to any of the provider’s questions
Mental illness can be passed genetically, and you may not know the identifying signs, which is why it is extremely important for a teenager’s mental health to be monitored by healthcare providers. Teenagers may not feel comfortable disclosing this information with you for many reasons, including a family’s history of mental illness or lack thereof and not having the time to have everyday conversations about mental illness.
Mental health is also extremely important for physicians to monitor because the adolescence years are when a lot of growth and development occurs in the brain. While this is happening, your teenager may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors, make more impulsive decisions, and express strong emotions.
A doctor will check your teenager for signs of depression and anxiety, and may also ask if they have had any thoughts of self-harm. You can rest assured that, if the doctor thinks your teenager’s or someone else’s life is at risk, they will break their confidentiality to speak to you about their concerns.
Sexual Health and Identity
Sexual health and identities surrounding sexuality and gender identity are sensitive topics. While it is not always the case, teenagers may be more comfortable talking to a healthcare provider about these issues. This can be for a variety of reasons.
During your teenager’s doctor visits, they will also be asked questions to determine if they are sexually active. While this thought may not be pleasant for you, it is important a healthcare provider speaks with them about sexually transmitted diseases and sexual health. A doctor may also talk to them about relationships and consent since bringing up sensitive topics like this may help them disclose important information.
As far as sexuality and gender identity, we ask parents to remember that adolescence is a time for self-discovery. Your teenager may not have all the answers to your questions. That’s why it’s important to make efforts to ensure they are comfortable talking to you and their doctor, be involved in the learning process, and support them through this journey to avoid your teenager developing a trauma response when it comes to their identity. If they feel more comfortable speaking to a healthcare provider, you rest assured the doctor will encourage them to speak to you to help develop their support network.
Get Comprehensive Family Healthcare
If you are looking to schedule a teen doctor visit, Hillcroft Physicians P.A. is proud to offer family medicine to every age. We will help your teenager live a happy and healthy life along with the rest of the family. For Appointments, call (713) 988-3921 or visit our website to learn more.