Gennette, 32, first visited the gynecologist in the seventh grade when she had a period that lasted 28 days. The Washington-based communications consultant recalled feeling uneasy with her male gynecologist, who happened to be her classmate's stepdad.

Even without a personal connection, it can be intimidating to discuss sensitive health issues with a gynecologist. Having a stranger examine your vagina can be especially unnerving if you've experienced sexual trauma.

Despite initial reservations, seeing a gynecologist is an opportunity to take control of your sexual and reproductive health. A gynecologist answers questions about birth control, menstruation, STIs, acne and weight gain, among other things. Every time we do something for the first time it can be unnerving, so here are some tips for a person's first gynecologist visit.

When should you start seeing a gynecologist?

Some patients come in for the first Pap test and general exam when they become sexually active.

"Although it doesn't necessarily have to