What Do I Ask My Doctor?

Published: August 05, 2013
Dear What Do I Ask My Doctor?,

I'm almost ready for college and I want to make sure I'm taking good care of myself. I eat well, exercise, don't do drugs or anything. And I'm not sexually active yet, so I'm not worried about getting an STD or getting pregnant. But I also want to make sure I know what to ask or what should be happening when I see the doctor. I feel like my parents don't take great care of themselves and they never go to the doctor. And I want to be different.

Dear What Do I Ask My Doctor?,

TeenHealthFX admires that it is so important for you to be leading a healthy lifestyle – good for you! Taking care of your body (what you eat, being physically active, not smoking or doing drugs) is definitely important when it comes to your overall well-being. But check-ups with your doctor are definitely a good idea to make sure there are not any underlying medical issues (and if there are, that you are able to get treatment as soon as possible).

It is a good idea for you to meet with your doctor yearly. And for an idea of what to think about and what to ask, read Questions to Ask Your Doctor on the TeensHealth website. It will give you an idea on how to find out about confidentiality policies, what to ask if you are experiencing specific symptoms, and what to ask about tests, treatment, and medications.

In addition to general well visits with an adolescent medicine specialist or primary care physician, it is also important to have gynecological exams starting around age 15. For more information on these types of exams, read the WebMD article What Girls Need To Know About Growing Up. You can also read Your First Pelvic Exam (which should happen at age 21 or when you become sexually active – whichever one comes first) by the Center for Young Women’s Health through Boston Children’s Hospital.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network primary care physicians, adolescent medicine specialists or gynecologists.

And if you are troubled that your parents do not seem to be taking good care of themselves, TeenHealthFX recommends that you sit down and talk to them about this. Focus the conversation on how you feel when you see them doing things that feel unhealthy to you – and ask them if they would be willing to make some changes. Perhaps you could suggest some changes as a family – preparing healthy meals and exercising together, for example. If you see that they just don’t want to make changes, FX can appreciate that this might be frustrating and sad for you. But don’t let it deter you from making the decisions you need to make to keep yourself healthy and well!