As you move from adolescence to becoming a young woman, it becomes important to get more involved in taking care of your own health. That means working together with supportive adults like parents or guardians and a physician or another health care provider who can help clarify questions on body changes.
During your teen years of growth and development, you and your physician may begin to have “one-on-one” time to discuss confidential issues like sexual health, birth control, or dealing with stress.
Dr. Monique Collier Nickles, Chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Ambulatory Care at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, shares five tips to help teen girls remain safe and healthy.
- See a health care provider regularly – Adolescent girls should see their physician for a regular checkup, once to twice yearly to remain up to date on immunizations and physical development. A physician specializing in adolescent medicine can clarify questions about your development and menstrual periods and help you understand normal changes versus other changes which could signify a medical problem.
- Be Knowledgeable, Confident, and Protect yourself – Deciding whether to become sexually intimate or have sex with someone is a big decision. If you are considering having sex, be sure that it is a choice that you are comfortable with. In addition, it is important to get accurate information and resources from a health care provider about pregnancy prevention, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases or infections also known as STDs or STIs.Common STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and syphilis. STIs spread very easily, and many teens have suffered from them. Condoms can prevent STIs, but should be accompanied by an effective method of birth control.Multiple low-cost birth control options offered at NYC YouthHealth Centers, including both hormonal and barrier methods.
- Get the HPV vaccine – The HPV vaccine protects against cervical, oral, and anal cancers caused by the human papillomavirus. The HPV infection is usually passed through sexual contact. The HPV vaccine works best if you get it before you are ever exposed to the virus. That’s why it’s important to get the vaccine before you start having sex. Experts recommend all teens get the HPV vaccine series.
- Get plenty of sleep – We know what you’re thinking. Juggling school work and social life leaves little time for sleep. But, recent studies found that teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, suffer from depression, and perform poorly in school.Experts say most teenagers need 8 – 10 hours of sleep each night.
- Eat Healthy – Eating nutritious food can help your body and make you feel great. However, we know that can be a challenge, especially in school cafeterias.Here are a few tips to help you stay fit:
- Choose water instead of soda and sugary drinks
- Pick more fruits and veggies as healthy snacks
- Eat breakfast every day, so you’re not as hungry at lunch and dinner
- Limit treats like cake, cookies or doughnuts
- Try different bread options like tortilla wraps, pitas or multi-grain bagels
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