Reproductive and Sexual Health
What is reproductive and sexual health?
Reproductive and sexual health includes anything related to the functioning of reproductive systems during all stages of life.
Reproductive Health at Seattle Children’s
Adolescence is a time of significant physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. This includes going through puberty, forming an identity and developing personal and professional relationships. The Reproductive and Sexual Health team at Seattle Children's considers all aspects of development and how they affect each person’s health.
We offer nonsurgical evaluation and treatment of reproductive and sexual health conditions for all genders ages 12 to 21, including:
- Menstrual management, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menstrual suppression, heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular menstruation, lack of menstrual period, menstrual cramps and mood changes during menstrual periods
- Counseling on contraception options, including insertion/removal of an intrauterine device (IUD) or contraceptive implant
- Sexually transmitted infections
Our Reproductive and Sexual Health Clinic provides developmentally appropriate care to adolescents and young adults. We work closely with healthcare providers from different clinics or services to care for people with medical or developmental issues that can affect their reproductive health.
Why choose Seattle Children’s Reproductive and Sexual Health Clinic?
Our interdisciplinary Reproductive and Sexual Health team works closely with you and other members of the healthcare team to create customized care plans.
At Seattle Children’s, you have a team behind you, from diagnosis through treatment and follow-up.
Research shows that a person’s physical, emotional and social development during adolescence can affect their overall health throughout their life. Our Reproductive and Sexual Health providers have specialized training in adolescent medicine, giving them a deeper understanding of the development that happens during adolescence and early adulthood. This helps us create a care plan that uniquely addresses your development now and in the future.
Our team is involved in research that is transforming the diagnosis, treatment and care of reproductive and sexual health issues. We focus on promoting sexual health and reducing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections among adolescents and young adults.
Our research includes:
- Primary prevention, such as early sexual health education and access to school-based health centers
- Secondary interventions, such as interactive computer-based interventions to promote health and reduce risky behaviors
Confidentiality in Washington State
Parents and caregivers are very important for ensuring the growth and development of adolescents into healthy adults. We encourage our patients to speak with their parents or caregivers about their health.
As providers, we are also dedicated to helping children, adolescents and young adults develop independence and practice being involved in medical decisions. As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, we offer our patients time in the Adolescent Medicine Clinic to talk with their provider alone.
Under Washington state law, adolescents have the right to seek medical care for the following conditions even without parent or caregiver consent if they are capable of making sound decisions:
- Birth control and pregnancy-related treatment
- Mental health conditions if 13 or older
- Alcohol and drug problems if 13 or older
- Sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS testing, if 14 or older
Our patients’ medical records are private and confidential. They will need to consent to releasing medical information to anyone, including their parents or caregivers.
Washington state privacy laws make it complicated for parents and caregivers to access adolescent health information. If the health of our patients or someone else’s health or well-being is in immediate danger, however, we will tell parents and caregivers immediately and include them in the plan to keep everyone safe.
Conditions We Treat
We care for adolescents and young adults of all genders with a broad range of reproductive and sexual health concerns, including:
An abnormal menstrual period (PDF) is when you have bleeding that falls outside the normal range for menstrual periods. This may mean that your bleeding is heavy, irregular or both. Heavy bleeding is called menorrhagia. Sometimes, abnormal menstrual periods can lead to you losing a lot of blood and may cause low levels of iron in your blood (iron-deficient anemia). Read more about breakthrough bleeding (light menstrual bleeding) (PDF) (Spanish).
Bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal infections. It happens when the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted. Symptoms can include vaginal discharge with a fishy odor, vaginal irritation and general discomfort.
We help find safe and effective methods for family planning, including the use of birth control (contraceptives). Birth control can also be used for other medical problems, such as heavy or irregular bleeding, cramps and hormone imbalance. Read more about continuous birth control pill use (PDF) (Spanish).
Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is when tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. The most common places where endometriosis happens are the ovaries; the fallopian tubes; the bowel; and the areas in front, back and to the sides of the uterus. Some people with endometriosis have few or no symptoms, while others have pain or difficulty getting pregnant. The best treatment depends on your individual situation.
Gynecomastia (guy-nuh-koh-MAS-tee-uh) is a common condition where breast tissue swells in people assigned male at birth. It can happen when 2 hormones (estrogen and testosterone) are out of balance. Young people with gynecomastia often feel embarrassed or self-conscious.
Menstrual suppression is a way of using hormone medicines to make periods lighter or stop them completely. Learn more about menstrual suppression for adolescents. (PDF) (Spanish)
In PCOS, the ovaries may not have a typical balance of hormones (estrogen, progesterone and androgens). The ovaries may enlarge and may develop many small, fluid-filled sacs (cysts). People with PCOS may not have a period each month. They may have acne or grow more hair on their body than usual. In some cases, PCOS may be treated with medicines to balance hormones and control menstrual periods.
Many people who menstruate feel physical or mood changes days before their menstrual period starts. PMDD is when your premenstrual symptoms are severe and cause problems in school, work and personal relationships. People with PMDD may feel hopelessness, anxiety, extreme moodiness or anger.
STIs are infections that are passed between people during intimate or sexual contact. Different types of germs cause different infections. Some people have no symptoms at all. Others have symptoms like discharge, discomfort or pain. Without treatment, STIs can cause lasting damage to reproductive organs. Common STIs include chlamydia, genital herpes and gonorrhea.
Services We Provide
We can help find safe and effective methods for family planning, including the use of birth control (contraceptives). Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) may also help treat certain gynecological conditions, including some problems with periods. We also offer long-term contraceptives that are reliable and safe in teens, such as IUDs and the contraceptive implant.
Medicines may help with many gynecological problems like vaginal infections or skin irritations. Hormones may improve some conditions, including PCOS. Seattle Children’s Reproductive and Sexual Health team provides a full range of medical treatments for reproductive health concerns.
We offer treatment for heavy or painful periods, seizures linked to periods, endometriosis and other conditions. We can also help if there are developmental or healthcare needs that make it hard to manage periods. Options include hormones taken by mouth (orally) or through a skin patch (transdermally), hormonal shots, IUDs (intrauterine devices) and other treatments.
Scheduling an Appointment With the Reproductive and Sexual Health Clinic
- For more information, contact the Reproductive and Sexual Health Clinic at 206-987-2028. A referral from your child’s primary care provider is not needed to make an appointment; however, we do encourage you or your family to coordinate with your primary care provider when coming to Seattle Children's.
- Call 206-987-2028 to make an appointment or to refer a patient. If you already have an appointment, learn more about what to expect and how to prepare.
- Learn about Reproductive and Sexual Health resources such as useful links, videos and recommended reading for you and your family.
For more information, contact the Reproductive and Sexual Health Clinic at 206-987-2028. We see patients in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett and Federal Way. Depending on the reason for your visit, you may be able to see a provider by telemedicine.
Providers, see how to refer a patient.