Get answers to some of the most commonly asked teen questions right here:
1. How long will my period last?
Young women usually start menstruating between the ages 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 the amount of exercise you do, and stress.
2. When is a menstrual cycle considered abnormal?
You should call your health care provider immediately if:
- you are sexually active and skip a period
- you experience severe pain or excessive bleeding
- bleeding lasts more than ten days
- you have bleeding or spotting between periods.
3. What is an STD?
STDs, short for sexually transmitted diseases, are infections most commonly spread through sexual intercourse or genital contact. About three million cases of STDs occur among teenagers every year. Unprotected sex and multiple sex partners place young people at risk for HIV infection, other STDs and pregnancy. If you must be 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 smear?
Not until you're 21, or within three years of becoming sexually active. This Pap test will be done in the gynecologist's exam room and only takes a minute or two. The gynecologist will insert a swab 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 herpes simplex.
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 him if you don't want to. There are no rules regarding when to have sex and when not to. This decision is a personal one that will affect the rest of your life 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 later. 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 keep from staining your clothes. You can choose from an assortment of sanitary pads, pantiliners and tampons. You can continue activities and sports that you enjoy. However, for more strenuous activities and for those that involve water, consider wearing a tampon rather than a pad.