Browsing Tag:

hormones

  • 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.

  • Stress

    Managing Stress

    What Is Stress?

    Stress is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re worried, scared, angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed. It is caused by emotions, but it also affects your mood and body. Many adults think that teens don’t have stress because they don’t have to work and support a family. They are missing the point and are wrong!

    What Causes Stress?

    Stress comes from many different places.

    • From your parents. “Don’t disappoint me, clean up, hurry up, finish this, do your homework, go out for the team, practice your music, try out for the school play, do your best, stay out of trouble, make more friends, don’t ever try drugs.”
    • From your friends. “How’d you do on the test, try this, prove you’re not a loser, don’t hang out with them, don’t wear that.”
    • Even from yourself. “I need to lose weight, build my muscles, wear the right clothes, get better grades, score more goals, show my parents I’m not a kid anymore.”

    And from:

    • Watching parents argue
    • Figuring out how to be independent
    • Feeling pressure to get good grades
    • Thinking about the future
    • Being pressured to do something you know is bad for you, like smoking
    • Not being good enough at sports
    • Worrying about how your body’s changing
    • Dealing with sexual feelings
    • Worrying about neighborhood or world problems
    • Feeling guilty

     

    How Does the Body Handle Stress?

    First, here are 2 short definitions.

    • Hormone: a chemical made by one part of the body that travels through your blood to send messages to the rest of the body.
    • Nervous system: the brain, spinal cord, and all of the nerves. The nerves send messages between your brain and the rest of your body.

    The body is a finely-tuned machine that can change quickly to do what we need it to do, like react to stress. The body has two nervous systems. The voluntary system does what you choose to have it do—walk, talk, move. The involuntary system keeps the body running without your even thinking about it—breathe, sweat, digest. The body actually has 2 different nerve pathways in the involuntary system. One works while we’re relaxed, and the other works when there’s an emergency. These 2 systems can’t work together at the same time. It’s important to know this because we can shut off the emergency system by flipping a switch and turning on the relaxed system.

    Is Stress Always Bad?

    Even though stress is uncomfortable, it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes stress helps us deal with tough situations. A lot of stress changes our bodies quickly and helps us react to an emergency. A little stress keeps us alert and helps us work harder.

    Ages ago, when people lived in the jungle—where a tiger might leap out at any moment—the emergency nervous system was key to survival. Imagine your great, great, great ancestors, Sam and Zelda, munching on some berries. Suddenly they saw a tiger and had to run! Hormones gave them the burst of energy they needed to escape.

    How did their bodies react? First, Sam and Zelda got that sinking feeling in their stomachs as the blood in their bellies quickly went to their legs so they could take off. Then when they jumped to their feet, their hearts beat faster to pump more blood. As they ran from the tiger, they breathed faster to take in more air. Their sweat cooled them as they ran. Their pupils became bigger so they could see in the dark, in case they needed to jump over a log while running away. They didn’t think about anything but running because they weren’t supposed to stop and figure out a friendly way to work it all out with the tiger.

    Our ancestors never would have survived without the stress reaction, but stress helps us do more than run. It keeps us alert and prepared for the next lurking tiger.

    Few of us need to outrun tigers today, but we all have problems and worries that turn on some of those exact same stress responses, like that panicky feeling you sometimes get when you’re studying for a big test. Your heart beats fast. Your breathing becomes heavier. You sweat and get flashes of heat because your hormones are confused about why you aren’t listening to them. Why are you standing still when they are telling you to run?

    If Stress Is a Survival Tool, Why Does It Make Us Feel Awful?

    Sam and Zelda had few choices when the tiger chased them. Either the tiger ate them or they escaped. As sick as it sounds, if they’d been eaten, they wouldn’t have had much to worry about anymore, right? If they lived, you can be sure their burst of energy allowed them to outrun the tiger or at least outrun Zok (their slower friend who was eaten by the tiger). In their run for survival, Sam and Zelda used up every drop of their hormone burst and then took a well-deserved nap.

    In the modern world, our biggest worries aren’t usually about life or death. We don’t really have to run away from our problems. But those same stress hormones stay in our bodies because, unlike Sam and Zelda, we don’t use them up by running. Instead, those hormones continue to hang around, unused and confused. They seem to be asking, “Why did my body stand still when that ‘tiger’ attacked?”

    It would be better if we had different hormones for different stresses. Hormones to deal with parental pressure would make you love chores. Hormones related to school stress would make you focus longer and shut down your kidneys so you wouldn’t need bathroom breaks. But we only have those hormones that prepare us to flee or fight. So it’s really important to use your brain to decide what’s a real emergency and to use exercise to use up those hormone bursts.

    Even when there are no real emergencies, our emotions make our bodies act like there is a huge crisis because the brain controls both emotions and stress hormones. If your brain thinks something terrible is happening, your body will react as if it really is! Even a little bit of stress that never seems to go away can confuse the body. It makes the body work harder to prepare for an emergency that may not really be there.

    A tiger running at you is a real crisis. If you believe a mild stress (like a math test) is an emergency, you will not be able to study. Your body will be preparing to deal with a real tiger, and you won’t be able to concentrate on anything but escaping. The trick is to figure out when something really is an emergency and when your emotions are only treating it like one.

    From: Fostering Resilience