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Birth Control

  • Articles, Birth Control, Body Image, GirlSpring.com, Health, Puberty

    Glowing Up While Growing Up: Normalizing Hormonal Changes During Puberty & Beyond

    puberty

    Guest Post

    Do you have a habit of putting your body down? Maybe you spend hours picking at blemishes in the mirror or comparing yourself to other girls around you or online. It’s possible that self-criticism has become so normalized you may not even realize that you’re doing it.

    Beginning at puberty, we experience dozens of physical changes from head to toe. When we notice these changes in others, we tend to draw comparisons. That being said, each female body was designed to blossom differently. Nonetheless, we become inclined to scrutinize and criticize every detail of our bodies. Accordingly, as our bodies change, so can our self-image.

    But our formative years are when we’re just starting to figure out who we are and who we want to be. It’s with great hope that we all strive to be happy and healthy through good self-esteem and self-worth. This is only possible if we recognize, understand, and accept our different features. Much like plants, each body grows in its own unique way but is still beautiful and worth celebrating and admiring. We’re here to let you in on what you need to know about hormonal body changes during this time in your life and how you can love and accept your body through it all.

    Acne

    The first thing we typically observe in the mirror is our face – especially if we have acne. Acne is the most common skin condition in the nation. Almost everyone experiences some breakouts in the course of their lives. Acne comes in many forms: blackheads and whiteheads, papules and pustules, as well as nodules and cysts. These blemishes can pop up in more places than just our face. They can appear on our neck, chest, shoulders, and back too. It’s extremely common for girls to encounter acne breakouts due to hormonal changes, like beginning their menstrual cycle

    However, it’s easy to forget just how normal blemishes are when we see pictures all around us of girls with “flawless” and “clear” skin. Although acne isn’t harmful to our physical health, it can most certainly take its toll on our mental and emotional health. Instead of trying to conceal or hide your acne, embrace it! Start by making positive changes to the things you surround yourself with regularly, like social media. Delete photo retouching apps on your phone and avoid using filters on your photos that give a false sense of what normal skin is. Your self-esteem will thank you! If you find that you’re still comparing yourself to others, unfollow any social media accounts that make you feel “less than” and replace them with body-positive accounts that promote self-love.

    Body Hair

    When exploring the different changes that come along with puberty, body hair is one that can cause some unsettling feelings. As you develop, you will likely notice more hair growing in new places, like your legs, underarms, and pubic area. Despite its taboo connotation, body hair is a good thing – it’s a sign that puberty is right on track! Not to mention that pubic hair, in particular, acts as the first line of defense against UTIs and yeast infections by preventing the transmission of bacteria

    Body hair might be concerning still for some girls, especially if it’s excessive or growing in less conventional areas such as your face, chest, and stomach. In this case, it may be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a common condition of females that can cause other health problems, including irregular or missed menstrual periods. So it’s important to express these concerns to a doctor who may suggest you try hormonal birth control pills (also known as combination pills). Our ovaries make the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These regulate our menstrual cycle. Our ovaries also make androgens, which can be responsible for unwanted hair growth. Hormonal birth control pills containing estrogen and progestin can balance out your hormones to reduce hair growth and regulate your period.

    In any case, body hair can serve as a reminder to take care of your body for you and your health. Not for the approval or acceptance from anyone else! Whether you choose to let it grow or let it go, good hygiene and health precautions should be at the forefront. If you embrace your body hair, keeping your skin clean can prevent the buildup of oil, dead skin cells, and other things that can clog hair follicles and cause ingrown hairs. Likewise, if you decide to shave, talk to a trusted adult about the best shaving practices to avoid any “bumps in the road,” like ingrown hairs that can lead to infections.

    Growth and Development

    Speaking of estrogen, it’s also the hormone behind the growth and development of your breasts, which is one of the first signs of puberty. Because of our unique genetic makeup, breast size varies between every girl. Keep in mind that everyone’s body develops at a different rate, and all size breasts are perfectly acceptable! It’s also normal to experience growing pains while your breasts are developing. Protecting and supporting your breasts with a good first bra can help with discomfort. Girls whose breasts are less developed may consider a training bra or sports bra. Those who have developed further may choose a bra with a soft cup. It’s important that your bra is comfortable and fits correctly to allow your breasts to grow properly!

    Along with breast development, you will also notice growth spurts in both your height and weight, as well as a curvier shape to your body. Not only are these changes normal, but they are also a healthy sign of development! Your body is producing more fat to allow for fuller hips, thighs in order to support your body as it grows. Because of this sudden growth, it’s also quite common to have stretch marks. As the name implies, your skin stretched quickly to accommodate your body’s changes.

    You may even notice the development of cellulite. Cellulite is just fat storage underneath our skin that can create the appearance of a lumpy, uneven surface. Everyone has some fat under their skin, and cellulite during puberty is, like all other changes, normal and healthy! Despite what society leads us to believe, cellulite isn’t extra fat; but rather a shift in how and where our bodies store fat now that we’re growing

    Let’s be honest; it can be challenging to welcome these changes to our bodies at first. The most beneficial thing you can do for yourself is to find the good in all of it! Focus on all of the things you appreciate and like about your body. You might say things like, “I love that my body is growing because it means I’m getting stronger, which lets me run faster, jump higher, and dance more!” Don’t let comparisons put a damper on your body-image or cause you to neglect your body’s needs. It can help to remind yourself: “I will fuel my body with the love and nutrients it needs. I deserve a healthy body and no one’s going to take care of it except for me!”

  • Birth Control

    Abstinence

    Choosing not to have sex (until you’re married, until you’re ready…whatever) and it’s the only 100% effective method of birth control.

     

    WHAT IT IS

    This one is pretty simple—abstinence is exactly what it sounds like: waiting to have sex. That may mean until you’re married or until you’ve found the right person or because you did it before but don’t want to now. No matter what you’re reasons, abstinence is choosing not to have intercourse.

    HOW IT WORKS

    • Step one: don’t have sex.
    • Step two: that’s it!

     

    EFFECTIVENESS

    Waiting is 100% effective (and for the record, this is the only method of birth control that is 100% effective).

    Note: When we talk about effectiveness we mean typical use number or what happens when couples used this method of birth control pretty well; it accounts for humans errors and occasional contraceptive failure. BUT, teenagers are often not as careful as older people in using rates for teens may be a little worse than what you see here. Keep that in mind as you’re looking at the options and remember that for birth control to be effective, you have to use it consistently and correctly every single time.

    MAJOR PERKS

    • Super effective.
    • Easy to remember.
    • Always available.
    • Long-term coverage.
    • No visit to a medical provider required.
    • Non-hormonal.

    MINOR DRAWBACKS

    • You have to be perfect every single time and it can be hard to say no!
    • If you change your mind and decide to become sexually active, you have to plan ahead and have some kind of birth control on hand.

     

    NEED TO SEE A MEDICAL PROVIDER?

    Nope; this one is all on you (and your partner).

    From: stayteen.org

  • Birth Control

    The Pill

    What is it?

    The birth control pill is what most people think of as “the pill”. The pill is the most common BC method and is highly effective if taken every day. There are many strengths and brands of contraceptive pills. You can talk with your clinician about which type of BC pills is right for you.

    Pros:

    • 92-99% effective.
    • Can make periods more regular and cramps less painful.
    • Can improve acne and PMS.
    • Helps protect against uterine and ovarian cancer.

     

    Cons:

    • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV.
    • May cause irregular bleeding. These side effects often disappear over time, or can be helped by changing to a different pill with a different amount of hormones.

     

    Who uses birth control pills?

    People who have the self discipline to take a pill every single day and who have a safe place to store their pills.

    How do you use birth control pills?

    For most types of BC pills you swallow one pill every day for three weeks. The last week you either take a pill that has no hormones –a “reminder” pill to keep you in the habit of taking a pill each day-or take no pills for one week. This is when you will get your period. There are also pills you can take to not get your period at all. Talk to your provider about what kind of pills are best for you.

    Where do you get birth control pills?

    You can get a prescription for BC pills at a clinic near you.

    How effective are birth control pills?

    BC pills are 92-99% effective. They are most effective when taken every day. If you skip a pill during a pill cycle, you may be at higher risk for unintended pregnancy.

    Does the pill offer STD protection?

    NO. For STD protection use condoms with this method.

    From: TeenSource

  • Birth Control

    Condoms

    What is it?

    The male condom is a thin covering that fits over an erect penis. Condoms are used to help prevent pregnancy and protect from HIV and other STDs when you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. Condoms can be made out of different materials.

    Condoms come in different textures, colors and sizes. Make sure the condom fits. Some condoms are lubricated, making the condom more slippery and comfortable to use during sex. Only water based lubricants can be used with latex condoms.

    Pros:

    • Condoms can prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
    • You don’t have to go to a clinic to get them.
    • Condoms are easy to find in many places; at supermarkets, gas stations, drugstores, local clinics, and in vending machines.
    • Condoms are easy to carry around.
    • Condoms may help an erection last longer.

     

    Cons:

    • Condoms can break and slip off 1-2% of the time. To prevent breakage and slippage check for proper placement and size.

     

    Who uses male condoms?

    People who are looking for no-commitment BC and want STD protection as much as they want pregnancy prevention.

    How do you use male condoms?

    Before using a condom, make sure which way it unrolls. Pull back the foreskin and unroll the condom all the way to the base of the penis.

    Talk to your partner about using a condom in advance. Change the condom if the penis is exposed to a different site (i.e. moves from anus to vagina). Remove the condom immediately after you ejaculate (cum). Withdraw the penis while holding the rim of the condom at the base of the penis to avoid having any cum spill out. The condom should be used just once and then thrown away.

    What about lube?

    Lubricant is a water-based, slippery liquid that can help prevent condoms from breaking during use and may prevent irritation caused by the skin-on-skin friction that can happen during sex.

    Important things to remember about lubricant:

    • Only use WATER-based lubricants that are made for the purpose of having sex.
    • Never use anything oil-based on a condom (such as Vaseline, baby oil, body lotion or vegetable oils) because the oil weakens the latex that the condom is made of and can cause condoms to break!

     

    What about “double bagging”?

    You may have heard of “double bagging,” or layering two male condoms at once to get extra protection. We don’t have any data showing that “double bagging” is better or worse than the single use of condoms, but we do have a lot of evidence showing that the single use of condoms is effective at preventing STDs and pregnancy. Even if “double bagging” offers protection, because we hear so often that condoms reduce sensation, it’s probably worthwhile to focus on the correct use of a single condom. This will provide the most scientifically effective birth control method + STD protection while retaining sensation!

    Where do you get male condoms?

    You can buy condoms at most drugstores and supermarkets, and many clinics give them away free of charge. You do not need a prescription to buy condoms, and you do not need ID. People of all ages can easily buy condoms

    How effective are male condoms?

    Condoms are 85-98% effective. The biggest reason for condom failure is not using a condom correctly each time you have sex.

    Do male condoms offer STD protection?

    Yes. Condoms are the only BC method that also prevent STDs and HIV. They can also be used with other Birth Control methods for double protection.

    From: TeenSource

  • Birth Control, Sexual Health, Tough Questions

    Types of Birth Control and Their Pros and Cons

    Which Birth Control Method is Best for You?

    Birth control can sometimes be a taboo subject and can be especially uncomfortable for teens to talk about. It is important to remember that birth control is used for numerous reasons such as helping with regulating periods, treating symptoms of endometriosis, and preventing unwanted pregnancies, which is the primary purpose. It is essential to know your options when getting birth control. Most people think the pill is their only option, but there are several different forms of birth control. Some factors one might consider when deciding which type of birth control to use include its effectiveness for preventing pregnancy, the frequency with which you renew it, and how well or poorly your body reacts to it. Here are the four main types of birth control on the market which one should consider when thinking about getting on birth control.

    1. The Pill

    The pill is the first on the list because it is the most obvious. The pill is good because you can take it just a day at a time, and if you want to quit then you just stop taking it. The downside to taking the pill is that you DO have to worry about it every single day, and if you forget to take it then it can throw you off. While birth control is used for more than just protecting against pregnancy, if you do use it while being sexually active and you miss just one day, it can result in pregnancy. Even if you don’t forget, the pill only works 91% of the time when protecting against unwanted pregnancy, which most people don’t realize. Many people end up taking the pill because they don’t know there are other options available to them.

    2. Depo-Provera aka “The Shot”

    Depo-Provera is birth control in the form of a shot given by your gynecologist every three months. The main pro is not having to worry about it as often as the pill, but you still have to remember to get your shots on time for it to be effective for whatever reason you may be getting it. When using it to protect against pregnancy, it protects about 97% of the time and can protect up to 99% of the time if you get your shots regularly and on time. The shot is a good middle ground because it is more effective than the pill but is somewhat less effective than the implants. It also requires less frequent attention than the pill, but more attention than the implants which can last for years.

    3. The IUD

    The IUD and arm implant are similar. The IUD is placed in the uterus and works by releasing hormones directly into the uterus which keep the sperm from reaching the egg. Most people who have an IUD can also expect to experience no menstruation at all, so it is also great for those who have heavy periods. This option prevents pregnancy more than 99% of the time and can last anywhere from 3-5 years depending on what kind you get. Some people, like myself, tend to avoid this option because they don’t like the idea of having something placed into their uterus. The uterus is a sensitive area, and having something foreign placed there can cause complications every so often. Even though this is not common, there is still the possibility, and it does happen on occasion.

    4. Implanon/Nexplanon aka “The Arm Implant”

    The implant is the birth control which I personally use because, to me, it seemed like the easiest option. However, the majority of women do not know about this option. I did not know about it until I started researching the types of birth control which exist on the market. I did not want to worry about taking a pill every single day and, even though I was using it to regulate my period, 91% effectiveness in pregnancy prevention did not sit well with me, had I needed to use it for that reason. The implant is basically a small white stick about 1.5 inches long and 2mm in diameter. It is inserted into your upper left arm by your gynecologist, and that’s it; you are good for three years. You don’t have to think about it for a while, and it protects against unwanted pregnancy more than 99% of the time. The con to this option is that people are prone to bleed over a period of time after they receive the implant. For me, I had a period for two weeks, but after it finally ended, I didn’t have a period in the two years between then and now. Others aren’t always so lucky. Some women have bled for up to six months and just decided it wasn’t worth it. Basically, some people don’t react well to it. Talk to your gynecologist about the best options for you and the concerns you may have if you are thinking about getting the implant. Every woman is different, and our bodies react differently to different medicines.