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Teen Pregnancy

  • 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.

  • Teen Pregnancy

    Could I Still Be Pregnant Even Though I Got My Period?

    I had sex with my boyfriend without using a condom. I got my period the next day and I’m not sure whether having my period means I’m not going to get pregnant. Is it possible that I could still get pregnant?

    It is possible for some pregnant women to have some light, irregular bleeding during pregnancy. However, the length and amount of bleeding should not be like a regular period. If you are pregnant and are experiencing any type of bleeding, it is best to check in with your doctor right away to make sure that there are no underlying medical issues connected to the bleeding.

    If you are concerned you might be pregnant, but start bleeding around the time you would normally get your period (and the duration and amount of bleeding is consistent with what is it like when you normally get your period), then most likely you have gotten your period and you are not pregnant.

    If you have gotten what seems like your period, but you are still concerned, consider taking a pregnancy test or meeting with your primary care physician, gynecologist, or adolescent medicine specialist to confirm whether or not you are pregnant so you can put your mind at ease.

    Going forward TeenHealthFX strongly recommends that you meet with a medical health professional before continuing a sexual relationship with your boyfriend to learn about different types of birth control and pick the best type for you so that you will not find yourself in this situation again. Doctors generally recommend that teens and young adults who choose to be sexually active use condoms to protect against unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of STDs, as well as a back-up method of birth control such as the pill or birth control shot.

    FX also recommends that you check out our Resource of the Month, Planned Parenthood Resources on Safer Sex. This resource gives links to important topics such as sexual readiness, how pregnancy happens, birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy options, STDs, and more. If you make the decision to be sexually active, it is important to be educated on these different issues.

    From: Teen Health FX

  • Health, Home Life, Lifestyle, Relationships, Teen Pregnancy

    Preventing Pregnancy FAQs

    Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions about pregnancy prevention. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, you can check out more resources.

    From: It’s Your Sex Life

    Can I really get pregnant or get someone pregnant the first time I have sex, or if I only have sex with someone once?
    Yes, you can. Every single time you have sex there is a chance of pregnancy. The only 100% effective way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex. If you are having sex, it is critical that you use protection each and every time.There are different methods of protection to choose from. Read on for more on what works and what doesn’t work so well.

    If I am having sex, what are the most effective options for preventing pregnancy?
    If you do have sex, there are different methods of protection to choose from- condoms, the pill, the IUD, the implant, the ring, and the patch, to name a few. When used correctly and consistently (that’s every time) they are very effective at preventing pregnancy. Some options- like trying to “time it right” or withdrawal are less effective and harder to manage. To find out more about the options that are available check out Birth Control Methods or talk to your healthcare provider about finding the method that’s right for you.

    Do I need my parent’s permission to go on the pill?
    You can’t just go into a store and buy the pill like you can with condoms, but there are many health centers and clinics where you do not need your parent’s permission to get a prescription for it. The best place to start is to make an appointment with a health center near you to get an exam and discuss all of the various options for preventing pregnancy. If you can’t talk openly with your parents about using protection, it’s a good idea to find a trusted adult who cares about you to talk with. Condoms are not the most effective at preventing pregnancy but they are the only method that prevents STDs so it’s smart to use them in addition to another method.

    I tried the pill but didn’t like it. What other options do I have?
    There are nearly 50 different brands of pills and chances are there is one that will work for you. Ask your doctor to help you find one that’s better for you. And if the pill isn’t right for you, or if taking a pill everyday isn’t realistic for you there are many other methods that might be better. For example, the implant is good for 3 years, Depo Provera only requires a shot every three months, the ring only needs to be changed be changed once a month. Since most methods require a prescription the first time, you’ll need to see a health care professional.It’s also good to speak with a health care provider about all the options and what is a good match for you.

    Check out Birth Control Methods or talk to your healthcare provider to find out more about finding the method that’s right for you.

    I had unprotected sex last night, or the condom broke…
    If a condom breaks or you forgot to take your Pill a few times this month, or you had unprotected sex for some other reason, there is something that you can do to reduce the risk of pregnancy, but you need to act quickly. Emergency contraception (sometimes called “EC” or the “morning after pill”) may be taken within 120 hours (5 days) of having unprotected sex, but it is most effective within the first 24 hours. The sooner you take it the more likely it is to be effective. Plan B One-Step is a brand of EC that is available over the counter at drugstores to anyone of any age – you do not a need a prescription to get it.

    Emergency contraception works by preventing or delaying ovulation, preventing fertilization, or preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. Emergency contraception does not interrupt or terminate an established pregnancy; rather, it prevents pregnancy from occurring. That means if you are already pregnant, emergency contraception won’t end your pregnancy. Studies show that emergency contraception reduces your chance of pregnancy by 75 to 89 percent. It should not be used as regular contraception as there are many methods which are much more effective in preventing pregnancy.

    EC will not prevent pregnancy if you take it before sex, nor does it protect you from pregnancy during future sex acts. It is for emergency-use only and in situations when regular contraception fails. It also provides no protection against STDs. If the condom breaks, you are also at risk for contracting STDs. It’s important to get tested and treated, if necessary.

    EC does not have any known serious side effects, but it can cause nausea or vomiting for a day or so. You can ask your provider to prescribe an anti-nausea medication to combat any symptoms. If you do vomit, it can make the treatment less effective, so let your health care provider know.

    Emergency contraception costs about $45; it may cost less or be free at family planning clinics and health centers. For more information, call the Emergency Contraception Hotline at 1-888-NOT2LATE or go to not-2-late.com.

    I’ve had unprotected sex and I’ve never gotten pregnant. Does this mean I can’t get pregnant?

    No. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t. Unless you are actively trying to prevent a pregnancy, chances are high that you will get pregnant. The only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy is to not have sex but using contraception carefully and consistently can be up to 99% effective. Check out Birth Control Methods for more information.

    It’s important to have a protection plan in place. If you are having sex and you don’t want to get pregnant you have to use something to prevent it from happening.You should also use a condom each time you have sex since condoms are the only method that protect against both pregnancy and STDs.

    I think I might be pregnant…
    If you have had sexual intercourse and you’ve missed your period, especially if your breasts are tender or swollen or you feel tired or sick to your stomach, you may be pregnant. If you think you might be pregnant, you need to get a pregnancy test right away to find out for sure. You can arrange an appointment to see your health care provider, or buy a home pregnancy test at a drugstore, supermarket, or online (they cost anywhere from $10 to $30). Home pregnancy tests are pretty accurate if you follow instructions carefully, but you should have a test done at a health clinic to confirm your results. Many Planned Parenthood and health department clinics provide pregnancy testing for free or at reduced cost.

    If you experience any of the following, you should call your provider or clinic, or go to a hospital emergency room right away. These may be signs of a problem such as a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy or miscarriage:

    • Sudden, intense pain, persistent pain or cramping in the lower abdomen, especially if it’s on one side
    • Irregular bleeding or spotting with abdominal pain, especially after a light or late period
    • Fainting or dizziness that lasts more than a few seconds
    • Sudden heavy bleeding with clots or clumps of tissue after a late period
    • Abdominal pain and a fever

    I am pregnant…
    When you find out you are pregnant, you essentially have three options to consider: to continue the pregnancy and become a parent to your child, to continue the pregnancy and make an adoption plan for the child, or to terminate the pregnancy. This is a big decision and every road ahead is hard no matter what you choose. That’s why preventing a pregnancy in the first place is so important.

    What is the abortion pill?
    There are a ton of decisions to make when you are considering having an abortion. It is best to through your options with your healthcare provider, and with support from someone close to you. It is important to remember that you are not alone–3 out of 10 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. There are two types of abortions– an in-clinic abortion, and the abortion pill. Some states require parental permission for anyone under 18.The abortion pill is a medicine that ends an pregnancy up to 9 weeks after the first day of a woman’s last period. (some states limit to 49 days.)

    Here’s what to expect:

    • After going over your medical history, having a physical exam and an ultrasound, you will read and sign some paperwork.
    • You will take the first pill at the clinic, and take some antibiotics afterwards.
    • After 24-48 hours, you will take the second pill, misoprotstol, which causes the uterus to empty.
    • The second pill, misoprostol,will cause you to have cramps and bleed heavily.
    • Most women abort in 4-5 hours, sometimes a few days.
    • Some women feel cramps, nausea, similar to a period.
    • After the abortion, you will have a follow up appointment with your healthcare provider.
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      For confidential resources and support, you can contact Exhale, a free, after-abortion talkline.

      What is an in-clinic abortion?
      There are a ton of decisions to make when you are considering having an abortion. It is best to talk through your options with your healthcare provider, and with support from someone close to you. It is important to remember that you are not alone–3 out of 10 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. There are two types of abortions– an in-clinic abortion, and the abortion pill. Some states require parental permission for anyone under 18. Costs range from $700-$1700 for first trimester abortions and increase in cost for later term abortions. There are two types of in-clinic abortions: aspiration, which is used up to 16 weeks after a woman’s last period, and D&E — dilation and evacuation — which is usually performed later than 16 weeks after a woman’s last period.

      Here’s what to expect:

      • After going over your medical history, having a physical exam and an ultrasound, you will read and sign some paperwork.
      • You will get medicine for pain, you may be offered sedation or a numbing medication into or near your cervix.
      • A speculum will be inserted into your vagina.
      • The opening of your cervix may be stretched with dilators (you might have absorbent dilators inserted a day or a few hours in advance).
      • The dilators will absorb fluid and get bigger, slowly stretching your cervix, sometimes medication is used as well.
      • You will be given antibiotics to prevent infection.
      • A tube is inserted through the cervix into the uterus.
      • Either a hand-held suction device or a suction machine gently empties your uterus.
      • If any remaining tissue is there, an instrument called a curette is used to remove it.
      • You will then rest in a recovery room and be given aftercare instructions, with a 24/7 number you can call if you have any concerns.

      The procedure takes about 5-10 min, and you will have follow up appointment with your healthcare provider.

      For a D&E abortion, you can expect the same as above, but in later second-trimester procedures, you may also need a shot through your abdomen to make sure that the fetus’s heart stops before the procedure begins. The procedure takes about 10-20 minutes and you will also have a follow up appointment with your healthcare provider.

      For confidential resources and support, you can contact Exhale, a free, after-abortion talkline.

      I am NOT pregnant…
      Even if you just had a pregnancy scare, it can be a life-changing experience. Take time to consider what you can do to avoid this situation in the future. Maybe you don’t want to have sex – it’s okay to say no even if you’ve said yes before. If you are going to have sex, take the time to figure out which method of birth control is best for you. Then use it. Just thinking about it doesn’t count as protection.

      What if I think I want to get pregnant and have a baby?
      Remember, it’s all about timing: preventing pregnancy now can help you be the best parent you can be later in life, when you’re emotionally and financially ready. Most teen moms say they love their children but wish they’d waited until their lives were more settled before becoming a parent. Babies can be wonderful. They give a lot of love back, but they depend on you for everything. Babies also deserve grown up parents who are ready and able to care for them. Having a baby often leads to a lot of problems in a relationship — it usually doesn’t strengthen a relationship or lead to marriage. In fact, 8 out of 10 fathers never marry the teen mothers of their babies. Raising a child is hard. Raising a child alone is even harder. Being a teenager is a great time for growing up, getting an education, meeting new people and having fun — pregnancy and parenthood make that all very hard to do.

      If you are a teen parent or facing a pregnancy, there are many resources and organizations that can offer you guidance and assistance.

      Need more info? Check out our hotlines & resources.