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Make the Most of Your Teen’s Visit to the Doctor (Ages 15 to 17)

The Basics

Teens ages 15 to 17 need to go to the doctor or nurse for a “well-child visit” once a year. A well-child visit is when you take your teen to the doctor for a full checkup. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

At a well-child visit, the doctor or nurse can help catch any problems early, when they may be easier to treat. Make the most of your teen’s visit by:

  • Gathering important information
  • Making a list of questions for the doctor
  • Knowing what to expect from the visit
  • Helping your teen get more involved in the visit

What about cost?
Well-child visits are covered under the Affordable Care Act. Depending on your insurance plan, your teen may be able to get well-child checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance provider.

How do I know if my teen is growing and developing on schedule?
Your child’s doctor or nurse can help you identify “developmental milestones,” or signs to look for in your teen. This is an important part of the well-child visit.

Some developmental milestones are related to your teen’s behavior and learning, and others are about physical changes to your teen’s body.

What are some of the changes I might see in my teen’s behavior, feelings, and relationships?
Developmental milestones for teens ages 15 to 17 include:

  • More interest in sex and romantic relationships
  • Less time spent with parents or family and more time spent with friends
  • More worry about the future (like going to college or finding a job)
  • Less fighting with parents than during ages 11 to 14

This is also a time when some children may start showing signs of depression or eating problems. Your teen may also have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

What are some of the physical changes my teen will go through?
Teens ages 15 to 17 are typically finishing puberty. Puberty is when a child’s body develops into an adult’s body.

Every child starts going through puberty at a different age. Many girls finish puberty by age 15. For boys, puberty may continue until age 17 or older.

Teens might not ask you questions about sex, their bodies, or relationships. That’s why it’s a good idea for you to start the conversation.

Take Action!

Take Action!

Take these steps to help you and your teen get the most out of visits to the doctor.

Gather important information.
Take any medical records you have to the appointment, including a record of shots your child has received. Make a list of any important changes in your family or teen’s life since the last visit, like:

  • A separation or divorce
  • A new school or a move to a new neighborhood
  • A serious illness or death in the family

Use this tool to keep track of your child’s family health history.

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.
This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

  • A medical condition your child has (like asthma)
  • Changes in your teen’s behavior or mood
  • Your teen’s sexual development

Here are some important questions to ask:

  • How can I make sure my teen is getting enough physical activity?
  • Is my teen at a healthy weight?
  • How can I set rules more effectively?

Take a notepad and write down the answers so you can remember them later.

Know what to expect.
During each well-child visit, the doctor or nurse will ask questions and do a physical exam. The doctor or nurse will then update your teen’s medical history with all of this information.

The doctor or nurse will ask your teen questions.
The doctor or nurse may ask about:

  • Behavior – Do you have trouble following directions at home or at school?
  • Health – Do you regularly have headaches or other pain?
  • Safety – Do you always wear a seatbelt in the car?
  • School – Do you look forward to going to school?
  • Activities – What do you like to do after school?
  • Eating habits – What do you eat on a normal day?
  • Family – Have there been any changes in your family since your last visit?

The answers to these questions will help the doctor or nurse make sure your teen is healthy. See a list of other questions the doctor may ask [PDF - 287 KB].

The doctor or nurse will also check your teen’s body.
To check your teen’s body, the doctor or nurse will:

  • Measure your teen’s height and weight
  • Check your teen’s blood pressure
  • Check your teen’s body parts
  • Give needed shots

If your teen is sexually active or thinking about becoming sexually active, the doctor or nurse will talk to your child about preventing pregnancy and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).

Help your teen get more involved in visits to the doctor.
The doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during your teen’s physical exam. This is an important step in teaching your child to take control of his or her health care.

It also lets your child develop a relationship with the doctor or nurse and ask questions in private.

Your child can also:

Get more tips on helping teens take charge of their health care.

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