Many women don’t consider the need for an obstetrician/gynecologist until they are pregnant – or, at least, thinking about becoming pregnant.


But the best time to develop a good relationship with your OB/GYN is before a baby enters the picture, or even earlier if you are experiencing menstrual cycle issues, say doctors at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.


“Your early 20s are an important time for creating healthy routines and habits that can last your whole life,” said Rosalyn Miller, D.O., board-certified OB-GYN at Houston Methodist Obstetrics & Gynecology Associates at Sugar Land. “Finding an OB/GYN you are comfortable with – and building a relationship where you can talk freely – is a key element in creating a long-term healthy lifestyle. If you can establish that connection in your 20s, you will have a valuable resource who can help you throughout your child-bearing years and beyond.”


For many girls, the transition from pediatrician to primary care physician takes place during their early teens, and often it is the primary care doctor who has initial discussions about birth control with the patient. Once a young woman enters her 20s, however, she should see an OB/GYN annually, both to begin developing a relationship and for important gynecological screenings.


“In my experience, young women have lots of questions about their reproductive and sexual health, and a good OB/GYN can be invaluable in helping them understand and take charge of their own well-being,” said Miller. “I always invest the time to really listen to my patients and understand their concerns. I want them to feel they can always turn to me. There are no embarrassing topics in my office.”


One of the most common areas of worry is birth control.


“Most of the young women I see for the first time are already on some form of birth control, but they almost always want to know what other options might be better suited for their unique situations,” said Miller. “It’s an important discussion to have because that’s a significant decision. Talking it through with an OB/GYN who really knows you can make all the difference.”


Most importantly, an annual visit to the OB/GYN Is key to critical health screenings. Women in their 20s should have annual pelvic and breast exams and a Pap smear every three years to check for abnormal cell changes in the cervix.


“It’s very easy for young women to overlook breast or cervical cancer and assume those issues only impact older women,” said Miller. “But the truth is that those cancers can develop at any age, and early detection is critical.”


Building a relationship with an OB/GYN in your 20s will pay off in many ways. But one obvious benefit is that if and when you do get pregnant, you already have an obstetrician you trust.


“There is nothing better than having a long-time patient come in and say, ‘I think I am pregnant,’ and then helping her throughout her pregnancy until we deliver that baby,” said Miller. “It is so rewarding, and it demonstrates the value of having a strong relationship with an OB/GYN who makes you feel comfortable.”