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Sexual Health

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Relationships, Sexual Health

    10 Signs of a Toxic Relationship

    toxic relationship

    It takes some women years to get out of a toxic relationship. You can be a smart girl and still be completely blind-sided by new emotions that come with your first serious relationship. Red flags and completely obvious signs of infidelity can be sitting there, right in front of your face, and you could still come up with ways to rationalize everything your partner is doing so obviously wrong.

    So, here are ten pieces of advice that I have come up with while reflecting on my past relationships:

    1. Don’t fall for the “players.”

    You might be “special” and a player might actually be really into you, but those types of people like to have their cake and eat it too. Even if you end up dating them, players almost never grow out of it. They will most likely either cheat on you or move on to the next shiny new thing as soon as you’re comfortable. That may sound like a bit of a generalization, but it’s one of the few that I will maintain as facts for the rest of my life.

    2. If your family and friends don’t like your S.O., then it’s probably time to move on.

    The people you are close to and trust usually have your best interests in mind. If you are telling them details about your relationship and they have hung out with you and your boyfriend/girlfriend multiple times, then they probably know what they’re talking about. Because you are too busy being lovestruck by your new beau, your family and friends are seeing firsthand how your S.O. treats you. When they finally tell you how they feel about your S.O., try not to get defensive and just listen to what they have to say. Your loved ones know you better than anyone else.

    3. Don’t let them tell you how to dress. They are not your boss or mama.

    If your S.O. is telling you what to wear as a plus one to their event or to maybe dress a little more conservatively in front of their parents, that is fine. You should respect their wishes when it comes to their family. However, if your S.O. is starting fights or ignoring you over something that you choose to wear. That’s a problem. This means that your S.O. believes they “own” you in some way and are entitled to make you feel bad about yourself for embarrassing them or asking for attention. Wear what you want.

    4. Be mindful of how much time you spend with them.

    Make time for other priorities in your life. Nothing annoys me more than the couple that has to constantly be with each other because I used to be one of those people. Why are you basically living with them? Stop settling down like an old married couple and go have fun with your friends and family. Don’t just make your loved ones a backup plan just because plans failed to go through with your S.O. They know that you only want to get dinner tonight because Billy is out of town. You’re not slick.

    5. If y’all have broken up more than once… it ain’t workin’

    You know what I’m talking about. There is always that one couple that breaks up and gets back together so many times that you lost track and stopped caring a long time ago. Sorry, but if you can’t decide if you want to be with someone and have gone on multiple “breaks”, it’s time to move on. Yes, you probably still are attracted to them or care about them, but that doesn’t mean you work as a couple. Stop wasting your time.

    6. Abuse is not always physical

    Be aware of the manipulative types. If you see them manipulating and lying to their family and friends, then they are 100% doing the same thing to you. This is where it becomes dangerous in relationships because you don’t know what is true and what is not. A manipulative person will do everything in their power to spin the story to their advantage and turn the problems on you.

    They will call you crazy and victimize themselves. Or they will ask you why you would ever accuse them of such a thing. They will come up with so many explanations and lies for things that you will start to question your own sanity and worth. This is called “gaslighting” and it is officially classified as a form of abuse in psychology. It is a strategy that people use to break you and make you trust them so they can continue doing whatever they want while knowing that they can convince you of anything.

    7. You don’t have to give into their “needs”.

    If your S.O. gets mad at you for not wanting to engage in a sexual activity-red flag. They should be respectful of your boundaries from the beginning to the end of your relationship. You are not responsible for their satisfaction. Just because you are in a relationship does not mean that they own your body.

    8. They have a superiority complex…

    People who are critical of everyone else but themselves are the worst. Don’t waste your time on someone who can’t admit their own fault in a situation. Both members of a relationship should not only communicate but also feel comfortable with recognizing
    their own mistakes.

    9. You never receive anything in return…

    Your S.O. just takes and uses, but you’ve come to the realization that whenever you need something from them- it’s an ordeal? Yes, when you help someone it should be from the heart and not a part of an agenda. However, if you are constantly putting your all into the relationship and it’s unrequited when you’re finally the sick one this time… then you are probably just being used.

    10. They call the shots.

    One day things between y’all are going great, and the next day they’ve decided it’s over. Don’t let them just break up with you whenever they please so they can have a “break”, then come running back in a week when they decide that they want you back. You are not a doormat. “Breaks” are just for people who are too scared to actually tell their S.O. that they no longer want to be with them.

    Healthy relationships are key to being happy, take a look at our list and see if some of the things that your boo, your friends, or even you do are unhealthy.

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Health, Puberty, Sexual Health

    Periods Made a Little Easier with Clue

    clue app

    Being on your period is always an unpleasant experience with the physical and emotional pains that come with it. However, it becomes an even worse situation when you’re out somewhere and you start, but you didn’t plan ahead because you weren’t supposed to start at that time or you don’t have a set schedule for your cycle. I know that when I started it could be as short as 28 days to 40 days in-between cycles. Even if there are symptoms that signal your period is about to start, not everyone is the same, and they won’t experience them right when they begin having frequent cycles. That’s why to make things easier girls can get the app, Clue.  

    What is Clue?

    Clue is an app that helps women keep track of their monthly cycles. It collects data based on how often you start to how low you are on your period. There are even different tracking methods that help you not only understand what is happening with your body but to also get an idea of what is normal for your body. You could be someone who is very emotional during this time, or you could need extra sleep. Because periods usually only last 4-7 days, it can be hard to pay attention to how you’re feeling and live your life. This app helps you catalogue the information in just a few seconds, so when you have some downtime you can always go back and see what happened during that time.

    Give me the Data

    The Clue app has an easy set up. You download it, create an account, and put in your birthday, height, and weigh. These details can help Clue give you better research based on who you are. After that on the home page, you’ll see a circular arrow with a red circle in the middle. This is the page that helps keep track of everything. It shows how many days it has been since the last cycle started. This is the most beneficial part. I know that there have been days for me where I think I’m supposed to start at the beginning of the month, but I have no idea when. The day represented on the arrow just lets me know whether I’m close or not.

    Moving on to entering the data. The green circle with a white plus in the middle or the red circle with “Enter today’s data” are not hard to see because they are about the only pop of color. This part is what I really enjoy while using this app. There are so many little things to add:

    • Pain (cramps, headache, ovulation, or tender breasts)
    • How much you’re bleeding (light, medium, heavy or spotting)
    • Emotions (happy, sensitive, sad, or PMS)
    • How many hours you slept
    • How energized are you
    • Mentality (focused, distracted, calm, or stressed)
    • How motivated you are
    • Hair
    • Skin
    • Cravings (sweet, salty, carbs, or chocolate)

    Each of these can be added to your personal tracking options or taken away. It is all up to what you want to know. The section about the actually happenings of your period is gross to think about, but it helps to know how much bleeding you have to see when your period will be over. It also provides information that a doctor may need to know.

    Other really cool functions of the app

    Another function of Clue that I enjoy is the notifications. Every app has these, but Clue has set reminders to let you know when your cycle will begin, if you’re late, or if PMS is about to hit. This saves so much time. If I get notified that I’m late or about to start then I can make sure I have a pad or tampon with me. Most girls probably already have these any way, but sometimes after using one from the last cycle you forget about restocking because you’re just glad it’s over. That has been a problem for me in the past. Once that last day is over, being on my period is the last thing I want to think about.

    The final part of Clue that really makes it a good app is the Cycle Science section. When first starting your period, you may not know the ins and outs of it. You probably just think, “Hey, I’m bleeding. This is a thing now.” This section explains why all of the functions in Clue are important.  There are little articles with medical terminology, too. Some of this stuff you might not be taught, so having this here will help later when you’re older and go to the doctor. You’ll have the information you need to tell your doctor exactly what’s wrong if your period has something to do with it.

    If there is something to dislike about this app, it would be the “Plus” section. I have never found the need to pay for anything more because it is all provided right there in plain sight. There could be some extra analysis data I could be missing, but with everything that is already there, I don’t think you actually need anything more. This app is pretty straightforward so using it shouldn’t be a problem.

    Wanna download Clue and make period tracking a breeze? Get it on the App Store or Google Play. Or do you have more questions about periods and birth control and everything else that comes to sexual health? Check out our Need to Know page.

  • Articles, Dating, Mental Health, Relationships, Sexual Health, Tough Questions

    Nightmares for Memories

    CONTENT WARNING: This article contains information about sexual assault, which may be triggering. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

    Nightmares for Memories

    An Ugly Truth

    Some things are just engraved in your mind. No matter how hard you try to forget, you never will. Everyone has memories they can’t diminish. These memories feel more like nightmares. For some, the word “rape” and “sexual assault” are just sad things that happen if you’re not careful. They know it happens but don’t pay much attention to it – it’s one of those things you think will never happen to you.

    Hopefully, it won’t, but if it does, it will change your perspective on everything. At that moment it was like I had lost all control of my limbs, my entire body completely shut down. I went from saying stop and yelling no at the top of my lungs to just staring dead off into space. You can’t do anything, you just are helpless to the situation.

    After, you see everything in a different light.

    You question everything you did – from what you said, to what you were wearing. You feel as if it was your fault. It is not. But for me, the worst part was the way I felt after. I felt used and powerless. You jump anytime someone touches you and cry if someone hugs you. You can’t breathe when you hear their name and have a panic attack if you’re in the same room as them. To put it bluntly, it sucks.

    Although it was one of the worst experiences of my life, it taught me a lot of things.

    One, it is not okay for me to let people take advantage of me. Not all guys have good intentions, do not choose to see only good in people and be blind to the bad. Take both into account when choosing who you let into your life.

    Two, pick and choose your “friends” wisely. I was sexually assaulted by one of the people closest to me.

    Three, know how to say stop. Don’t let people overpower you just because you don’t want to be rude. If you’re uncomfortable with someone hugging you – tell them. Because a hug can quickly turn into something worse.

    Four, don’t be afraid to talk about it, it helps. They won’t think you are overreacting. In fact, they’ll most likely tell you the opposite. They’ll help.

    Five, it gets easier, time helps. In the end, you’ll be a stronger person than you were before. Like the song says “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

    If you feel you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, please visit one of the following organizations for help. 

    Visit online.rainn.org to chat one-on-one with a trained RAINN support specialist, any time 24/7 or call 1-800-656-HOPE

    National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-4673

    Crisis Center Birmingham, Alabama, https://crisiscenterbham.org/sexual-assault-services/sexual-assault-services.htm

    24-HOUR HOTLINE: 205-323-7273

  • Sexual Health

    A Teen’s Guide to Asexuality

    By G and C

    The word “asexual” is used in many different ways and can mean many things.

    If you’re looking for a general definition when it comes to orientation, an asexual person is a person who does not experience sexual attraction (according to www.asexuality.org). The intensity of a person’s asexuality can vary heavily. This can cause each asexual person to have different experiences. For example, just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean they do not seek romance or a partner. Someone who is asexual can have a romantic orientation (ex. heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, etc.) or be aromantic. Asexuality in itself is a spectrum. There are a variety of ways asexuals may choose to label themselves. They also might not choose a label at all. Asexuality is about attraction, not action. One may still desire sex or engage in other sexual activities and be asexual.

    As the authors of this article, we want to share our personal experiences with asexuality. We also share where we feel we are on the spectrum. Asexuality can be a confusing sexuality for people to understand because it is so broad. We hope our experiences will give insight to other people who are curious about the orientation.

    Author G –

    I was fourteen when I first started to wonder if I might be asexual.

    Before then, I thought to be asexual meant you didn’t want to be in a relationship at all. Not, that you didn’t feel any kind of attraction besides platonic. I realized I was wrong when I started telling my friend about how sexual stuff and the thought of sex itself grossed me out. She asked if I had considered that I might be asexual and I thought that couldn’t be true. Then, she gave me the real definition: being asexual doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want a relationship. It also doesn’t mean you can’t feel romantic attraction. It just means you don’t feel attracted to anyone in a sexual way, which actually fit the way I felt.

    Sexual stuff had always weirded me out. I thought everyone else felt the same way- until I realized less and less of my friends thought it was gross. I began to think that I might not just be a “late bloomer.” Some of my friends were already trying out things like masturbation and watching porn. Every time they mentioned it, I thought it sounded disgusting. I had no interest in any of it and this became another sign I might be asexual when I really started to consider that I was.

    For a while, I avoided giving myself the label because I still thought there might be the possibility I was late to the party.

    Technically, there still is a chance I could wake up one day and begin to feel sexual attraction. And that’s not a bad thing. But time went on, and I kept being uninterested in sexual stuff. Eventually, I decided to own the label and let people know I felt this way. I’m still not out to everyone. In a way, I admit I’m embarrassed that I don’t feel sexual attraction. Luckily I’m surrounded by accepting friends and I’ve learned to accept it myself. Not feeling attraction sexually doesn’t mean you’re late. It doesn’t mean you’re innocent. And it doesn’t mean you’re weird. It’s just the way you are and there are other people like you. Don’t be afraid to accept yourself!

    Author C –

    I have always known how I felt, but I never found a label for myself until the beginning of ninth grade.

    I began to notice the sexual experiences and feelings of my friends and peers in middle school. Constantly, I wondered when I would be able to relate to them. My friends enjoyed movies with sex scenes in them and they made out with their partners, things which I just did not feel the same way about. I would google questions like “What age are you supposed to want sex?” and “Is it ok to not like anyone in a sexual way?” It took me a few years to finally discover the word “asexual”, and it sounded like a perfect fit for me. I was worried at first that I might have hypoactive sexual desire disorder, another word I stumbled across on the internet.

    However, people with this disorder tended to experience distress, but I was personally content with my lack of sexual attraction or desire.

    The only confusion I felt was why I was so different from everyone else and the sexual culture around me. Although I had finally found a label I was happy with, I felt cut off from the world. The website AVEN (The Asexual Visibility and Education Network) provided an online community which validated my experiences and helped answer any questions I had.

    I had not realized that I knew another person who also identified as asexual until this year.

    I have been friends with G for a long time but did not realize she was asexual until recently. It was incredibly validating to find a friend who I could relate to and we decided to write this article for Girlspring readers. “Asexual” is still a widely unknown term, which is part of why the community seems so small right now. My hope is that our article will help other asexuals figure out who they are in a society that may struggle to understand them.

    There is a culture surrounding teenagers that demands that they must constantly want sex and that no teenage relationship goes without it.

    This is specifically harmful to teenagers that identify as asexual or feel like they might be asexual. Society portrays all teenage relationships as filled with sex. Media says in order to have a healthy relationship, you must have sex regularly. This is scary to asexual people. It makes us feel separated from everyone else. It makes other teenagers think that we are innocent or “lame” for not wanting sex. There is also pressure to feel like we must be willing to have sex to keep our partner happy.

    Some asexual people are sex-positive (okay with having sex out of curiosity or for the sake of their partner’s pleasure), so this may not be as much of a problem for them.

    For asexual people who are uncomfortable with having sex at all, the culture surrounding sex can make it scary for us to tell a partner that we don’t want to do sexual things for the fear that they might break up with us because of that. It is not right that sex and sexual activities are forced down the throats of teenagers in general. It gives asexual teenagers a much harder experience coming out and trying to seek romance if they fall under a romantic orientation in particular. Asexuals already only making up a small minority of the population. The sex culture in the media can make it worse for us to accept ourselves and get others to accept us. This is part of the reason we wrote this article: to bring more awareness to those on the asexual spectrum and make asexuals feel less out of place.

     

    Do you think you might be asexual? The one similarity between all asexuals is that they do not feel sexual attraction (sexual attraction is the desire for sexual contact with someone). Here are some other possible signs you could be an “ace”:

    • Not understanding when other people describe someone as “hot” or “sexy”.
    • Feeling uncomfortable when people ask questions about sexual behaviors and preferences.
    • Feeling out of place at sleepovers, school, or anywhere that sex may become a topic of conversation or interest of those around you.
    • Having trouble defining or differentiating between different types of attraction (romantic, sexual, sensual, aesthetic, platonic, etc.)
    • No desire to engage in any kind of sexual activities.
    • Not understanding the difficulty some people have with celibacy or abstinence because you would be generally content without engaging in sexual activities.

     

    Do you know someone who identifies as asexual? Here are some good rules of thumb on what is or is not appropriate to do or say to an asexual person:

    APPROPRIATE

    • Not revealing or pressuring them to reveal their orientation to anyone without their permission.
    • Doing research to better understand their identity and to be more respectful
    • Being a supportive friend regarding their asexuality

     

    INAPPROPRIATE

    • Asking questions like “Are you a plant?”, “Are you sure you just haven’t found the right person yet?”, or “Isn’t asexuality fake?”
    • Labeling them as “innocent”, “odd”, or “prude”
    • Making jokes about their orientation, especially in public, that might cause them to feel uncomfortable

     

    Click here for more information.

  • Puberty, Sexual Health, Teen Pregnancy

    We all go through it…The Change

    Puberty – How Your Body Changes

    Your body is changing; your moods may be unpredictable and sometimes hard to explain. Don’t worry. These changes are normal. Our guide to teen health is designed to help you understand the common physical and emotional changes you are going through, and deal responsibly with new personal and social situations you may encounter. These changes are called puberty.

    Puberty lasts for several years and marks the life stage when your body is changing from a child to an adult. Hormones help trigger and guide this process. Hormones are natural chemicals in your body that produce gradual physical changes during this time and may also cause emotional changes that can sometimes seem uncontrollable. These changes are common during puberty, and they happen to everyone. Although it may seem that these changes and feelings are out of your control, don’t worry—you’re still you, just the “growing up” version.

    Common Physical Changes in Girls

    Girls going through puberty often notice physical changes, such as larger breasts, hair growth in new places, acne and changes in the shape of your hips, waste, bottom and thighs. Below are some of the common physical changes you may experience.

    Menstrual Periods & PMS

    Menstruation is a turning point in your development from a child to a teenager. It’s important to remember that this is natural and something that makes being a woman special.

    Larger Breasts

    One of the first changes you will notice are your breasts growing, usually between the ages of eight and 12. Once your breasts start growing, you will most likely want to buy a bra.

    Common Social and Emotional Issues

    Today’s young women face many emotional and social challenges during puberty. Below are some of the common tough issues you may find, and tips for handling them.

    Self Esteem & Peer Pressure

    The foundation for positive self-esteem is built at an early age and is influenced by relationships between you and your family. Your feelings about yourself will change as you grow.

    Sex & Sexually Transmitted Diseases

    When to engage or not engage in sexual relations is one of the most important decisions a person can make. From getting pregnant to becoming infected with an STD, make sure you understand the risks.

    Mental Health & Abuse

    Overall health means more than simply being in shape and eating properly. Mental health, which includes your thoughts and feelings, is just as important as physical health.

    Hair Growth

    Hair will start to grow under your arms, on your legs and on your pubic area. Shaving your underarms and legs is a personal choice, but talk about it with one of your parents first.

    Acne

    This aggravating condition may be mild (blackheads and whiteheads), moderate (larger inflamed-looking blemishes) or severe (large cysts or nodules). Acne is caused by a build-up of oil, microorganisms and dead skin cells in the hair follicles under the skin.

    Eating Disorders

    With a more prevalent preoccupation with appearance and weight in today’s society, girls may be at risk to develop eating disorders.

     

    Substance Abuse

    During your teenage years, it is a good idea to take some risks, like trying new activities or sports. However, some risk-taking behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking and using drugs have negative effects.

     

    Visiting Your Doctor

    Before the onset of puberty, discuss your questions and concerns with your health care professional. It is also a time for you to gather printed material on a variety of health issues, including your menstrual cycle, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

  • Sexual Health, Teen Pregnancy

    Sexual Health & What You Need To Know

    • Puberty lasts for several years. It is the stage of your life when your body is changing from the body of a child to the body of an adult. Hormones, which are natural chemicals in your body, orchestrate these alterations in your body.
    • During puberty, one breast might grow larger than the other. Once your breasts start growing, the differences will most likely be slight. And your breasts will even out before they are finished developing. Even if they don’t, no need to worry—many women’s breasts don’t match each other exactly.
    • It might take a while, perhaps even a year, for your periods to become regular. During the first year, your cycle (from the start of one period to the start of the next) may be as short as three weeks or as long as six weeks. Even after your period becomes regular, exercise, stress or a change in diet could throw it off track. If you are sexually active and skip a period, talk to your health care professional immediately—you could be pregnant.
    • An estimated 3.2 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur among teenage girls every year; this translates to one in four teenage girls.
    • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for persons between 10 and 14 years of age and the third leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24 years. Actions or talk of suicide are cries for help.
    • Today, an increasing number of teenagers express dissatisfaction with their bodies Media portrayals of idealized body images that are unrealistic for most people are partially to blame for the increase in teenagers’ dissatisfaction with their bodies. And this idealized body image among young women—and increasingly for young men, as well—is leading to an increase in the number of teenagers with eating disorders. Eating disorders are not just a preoccupation with food, dieting and weight, however; they are serious mental disorders that can have serious consequences. Two common eating disorders are bulimia and anorexia nervosa.
    • About 53 percent of all teenage school girls are not having sex, according to a 2002 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
    • You are most likely to get an STD during your teen and young adult years—more than two-thirds of all STDs occur in people younger than 25.
    • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2007, 39 percent of eighth-graders, 62 percent of 10th-graders, and 72 percent of 12th-graders reported having tried alcohol. It is the drug most often used by 12- to 17-year-olds.
    • The Harvard College Alcohol Study found a sharp rise (from 5.3 percent in 1993 to 11.9 percent in 2001) in frequent binge drinking was noted among women attending all-women’s colleges, and a lesser, but still significant, increase of the same behavior for women in coeducational schools.

     

    Questions to Ask

    Review the following Questions to Ask about teen health so you’re prepared to discuss this important health issue with your health care professional.

    1. What is going to happen during puberty?
    2. I get horrible cramps with my period. Is there anything I can do?
    3. One of my breasts is larger than the other. What is going on? Will they stay this way?
    4. What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and how do I know if I have one?
    5. I am thinking of becoming sexually active, and I want to know the safest form of birth control.
    6. Will you tell my parents what we talk about?
    7. How can I tell if I am pregnant?
    8. What is the best way for me to get rid of my acne?
    9. My friend tells me she sometimes thinks about killing herself. Is there anything I can do to help her?
    10. My boyfriend is pressuring me to have sex with him. What should I do?

    Q&A

    1. How long will my period last?

    Young women usually start menstruating between the ages of nine and 16. A period lasts from three to seven days each month. Don’t count on your period being regular during the first year or so. Dieting can alter regularity, as can stress and the amount of exercise you get.

    2. When is a menstrual cycle considered abnormal?

    You should call your health care professional immediately if

    • you are sexually active and skip a period
    • you experience severe pain or excessive bleeding
    • your bleeding lasts more than ten days
    • you have bleeding or spotting between periods
    • you have not had a period for the last six months

     

    3. What is an STD?

    Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections most commonly spread through sexual intercourse or genital contact. According to the CDC, 3.2 million cases of STDs occur among teenage girls every year; this means one in four teenage girls has an STD. Unprotected sex and multiple sex partners place young people at risk for HIV infection, other STDs and pregnancy. If you are sexually active, a latex condom is your best protection against getting an STD. It is important to know how to use a condom properly.

    4. Do I have to have a Pap test?

    You should have a Pap test about three years after you become sexually active; if you’re not having sex, you should have a Pap test by age 21. A Pap test will be done in the health care professional’s exam room and only takes a minute or two. The health care professional will insert a speculum into your vagina and lightly swab your cervix. A lab technician will analyze the results, looking for anything abnormal. Abnormalities could be signs of cervical cancer or viral infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV).

    5. I have been dating the same boy for more than two months and he is asking me when we are going to have sex. When do I have to have sex with him?

    You never have to have sex with someone. There are no rules regarding when to have sex and when not to. This decision is a personal one and should not be forced by anyone.

    6. My boyfriend broke up with me three weeks ago and I just can’t get over it. What should I do?

    Ending relationships can be painful at any age. Learning how to work through your feelings during and after a break-up is important now and for relationships you will have in the future. If you can’t shake your blues by spending time with friends or concentrating on activities you enjoy, talk to your parents, a counselor or mental health professional. You may be having trouble adjusting. You may also be experiencing depression, especially if you answer yes to several of the following questions:

    • Do you cry more now than you used to?
    • Do you think your life is hopeless or meaningless?
    • Do you have a hard time sleeping, either sleeping too much or falling asleep at night?
    • Do you spend more time alone than you used to?
    • Do you ever think of hurting yourself?
    • Do you often feel worn out?
    • Have you gained or lost weight in the last month or two?
    • Have you noticed significant changes in your appetite?
    • Are you more irritable than usual?

     

    7. What do I do when I get my period?

    You’ll need to wear some form of protection to prevent staining your clothes. You can choose from an assortment of sanitary pads, panty liners and tampons. You can continue activities and sports that you enjoy. However, for activities involving water, you will have to wear a tampon instead of a pad.

  • Sexual Health

    Understanding Sexual Health

    Coming up with a definition of sexual health is a difficult task, as each culture, sub-culture, and individual has different standards of sexual health. ASHA believes that sexual health includes far more than avoiding disease or unplanned pregnancy. We also believe that having a sexually transmitted infection or unwanted pregnancy does not prevent someone from being or becoming sexually healthy.

    Here is ASHA’s definition of sexual health:

    Sexual health is the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. It is an important part of our physical and emotional health. Being sexually healthy means:

    • Understanding that sexuality is a natural part of life and involves more than sexual behavior.
    • Recognizing and respecting the sexual rights we all share.
    • Having access to sexual health information, education, and care.
    • Making an effort to prevent unintended pregnancies and STDs and seek care and treatment when needed.
    • Being able to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when desired.
    • Being able to communicate about sexual health with others including sexual partners and healthcare providers.

     

    Defining Sexual Health

    ASHA Board member and professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine J. Dennis Fortenberry, MD, considers the term sexual health, how it is used, and how it can be defined.

    The phrase “sexual health” encompasses a range of public health and clinical issues related to prevention of sexually transmitted infections. I use the phrase a lot in my own work and its widening currency is a welcome new paradigm in our field. In fact, the concept of sexual health seems to me of fundamental relevance to all aspects of prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

    To be honest, though, all of the talk about sexual health doesn’t seem to have influenced the day-to-day particulars of our work. Sex still is primarily seen as a set of risk factors that we counsel against. I am convinced that this perspective on sex and sexuality as “risk” legitimates the stigma associated with sexually transmitted infections and contributes to our society’s poisonous intolerance of sexual diversity. A sexual health perspective incorporates the concept of personal and epidemiologic risks of sex, but recognizes the pervasive importance of sex in our lives.

    However, I’ve begun to wonder if I know what sexual health means in the first place. It’s a big concept, and maybe it’s natural that definitions seem idealistic, overwrought, and self-righteous. Consider the well-known working definition of the World Health Organization:

    “Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”

    There is a lot to agree with in this definition, especially in its recognition of the complex physical, emotional, mental and social attributes of sexual health, and the anchoring of sexual health in universal sexual rights. But, I find this definition to be quaintly admonishing and parental (“…the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences…”). More importantly, however, the definition is sexually vague. No matter how many times I’ve read, used, and cited this definition, I can’t derive from it even a rudimentary vision of how sexual health operates in people’s daily lives. I feel the same about the more recently wrought definition of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, particularly because sexual rights and of sexual pleasure are absent from that sexual health definition.

    So, maybe I need to get clearer with myself about what sexual health is. And, sexual health should be more than just the negatives: not coerced; not discriminated; not violent. The prevalence of these negatives in many people’s lives tells us how far we are from achieving a just and equitable society. But I think that sexual health ultimately requires much more active involvement from all of us, and it seems quite insufficient to hope that sexual health will arise on its own if coercion, discrimination, and violence are finally conquered.

    From: ASHA