Questions and Answers

We've put together questions from teens right here in Adams County. You're not the only one wondering. Go Ahead, click on a question to find the straight answer and links to more information.

When does puberty happen?

Puberty is the process of changing from a child into an adult. Puberty can begin as early as 8 and as late as 15. The average age of puberty beginning is approximately 10 years of age. Typically, a girl can expect their first period 2-3 years after the onset of breast development. Girls tend to begin puberty at a younger age than their male classmates. Some of the changes a girl can expect to experience during puberty are breast development, oily skin, excessive sweating, vaginal discharge, significant body growth, mood changes, and menstruation. Keep in mind, that everyone will experience the onset of puberty at different times. If you are finding these changes difficult, talk to your parents about how you are feeling. Remember, they went through puberty once too!

Why Do I Get Cramps with My Periods?

Menstrual cramps, or dysmenorrhea, are a very common problem for adolescent girls. About 60% of teenagers will have menstrual cramps, and up to 14% will miss school because of cramps. Menstrual cramps may start several days before the start of bleeding and last throughout the entire menses, but for most girls the pain is limited to one or two days only. Other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, backache, thigh pain, diarrhea, fatigue, dizziness and headache can also be experienced along with the cramps.

Menstrual cramps are caused by the breakdown of dead cells within the endometrium (lining of the uterus) which are then changed into a hormone called a prostaglandin. Prostaglandins directly affect the muscle of the uterus to cause it to contract and cramp. Prostaglandins are also responsible for vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness.

Treatment of menstrual cramps is aimed at limiting the production of prostaglandins. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen not only provide pain relief, but prevent prostaglandin formation within the endometrium, so they are the first choice for treating menstrual cramps, and they provide pain relief for up to 80% of girls. Ideally NSAIDs should be started before the cramps become severe, and some girls may benefit from starting the medication before their period begins. The most common side effect is an upset stomach which can be minimized by taking the medication with food. Acetaminophen (or Tylenol) can be used in girls who are unable to take NSAIDs, and acetaminophen can be taken in between doses of ibuprofen or naproxen for additional pain relief. Ibuprofen and naproxen should not be taken together, and are available in prescription strength if the over the counter versions aren't helpful. Heating pads and exercise can also improve the cramping. The birth control pill can significantly reduce menstrual cramps, decrease the amount of menstrual flow and usually shorten the number of days of bleeding. Sometimes a combination of both the birth control pill and NSAID pain medication is necessary to control menstrual cramps.

When menstrual cramps don't improve even after several months of the birth control pill and prescription strength pain medicine, other causes of menstrual cramps should be investigated.

You should discuss your menstrual cramps with a healthcare provider if the cramps don't improve with over the counter medications, frequently cause you to miss school, or you have pain in between your periods.

Why do I look so much younger than my friends...it's embarrassing?

Puberty is the term used to describe the changes that your body goes through as transition from a child to an adult. In girls these changes include the development of breasts and pubic hair, the beginning of menstruation, as well as a rapid increase in height. There can also be a change in the shape of your body as more weight is concentrated around the hips, giving the curvy appearance of an adult woman.

The hormones responsible for puberty are produced by the ovaries, which are located in the pelvis, and the adrenal glands which sit above the kidneys. The onset of puberty varies and may begin as early as age 7 to 8 for some girls, or as late as 13 for others.

There are many factors that can delay puberty. Girls who participate in competitive sports, have a low body weight, or an eating disorder will often have delayed puberty. Chronic illnesses such as Crohn's disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis or cancers as well as some hormonal imbalances can delay puberty. Frequently delayed puberty has no cause and puberty will start on its own, just a little later than your peers, but if you have reached your 13th birthday and have not noticed any breast development, or if you have turned 16 and have not had a period, then you should speak to your doctor.

My parents say I shouldn't share personal info online. What's the big deal? Everyone does!

The good news is everyone does not share their personal information online. Unfortunately people trying to steal your information are very clever. A good rule to follow is never give out personal information about yourself on-line because it could be used to harm you or your family. Let me give you some tips on posting on-line:

  • Never post your personal information, such as cell phone number, address, or the name of your school.
  • Be aware that information you give out in blogs could also put you at risk of victimization. People looking to harm you could use the information you post to gain your trust. They can also deceive you by pretending they know you.
  • Never give out your password to anyone other than your parent or guardian.
  • Only add people as friends to your site if you know and trust them in real life.
  • Never meet in person with anyone you first "met" on a social networking site. Some people may not be who they say they are.
  • Think before posting your photos. Personal photos should not have revealing information, such as school names or locations. Look at the backgrounds of the pictures to make sure you are not giving out any identifying information without realizing it. The name of a mall, the license plate of your car, signs, or the name of your sports team on your jersey or clothing all contain information that can give your location away.
  • Never respond to harassing or rude comments posted on your profile. Delete any unwanted messages or friends who continuously leave inappropriate comments. Report these comments to the networking site if they violate that site's terms of service.
  • Use the privacy settings of the social networking site:
    • Set it so that people can only be added as your friend if you approve it.
    • Set it so that people can only view your profile if you have approved them as a friend.
  • Remember that posting information about your friends could put them at risk. Protect your friends by not posting any names, ages, phone numbers, school names, or locations. Refrain from making or posting plans and activities on your site.
  • Consider going through your blog and profile and removing information that could put you at risk. Remember, anyone has access to your blog and profile, not just people you know.

Chatting on-line can be fun but remember that you need to be safe and remember that there are people in this world that spend a lot of their time looking for kids just like you to molest, sometimes abduct, sometimes rape and sometimes kill. Protect your identity! Be safe!!

Source: NetSmartz, program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

I want to eat healthy but I love junk food. Can you help?

Avoiding unhealthy food options is a difficult task. The good news is that there are plenty of healthy food choices that taste good! It's important to eat a variety of foods from all food groups to get the nutrients your body needs. By choosing healthy food options, such as fruits and vegetables, you will stay healthy while increasing your energy level. If you still crave junk food, snacks such as pudding, low-fat ice cream, graham crackers or trail mix are healthy alternatives to junk food.

My friend seems so sad, but I don't know how to help.

The best way you can help your friend is to encourage her to talk with her parents, or school counselor about her sad feelings. We all get sad once in awhile but prolonged sadness is called depression. If your friend is depressed, she may need to see a professional counselor or doctor. Always remember, if a friend asks you to keep secrets that suggest harming herself or anyone, you must tell a trusted adult. Better to have a friend be mad at you than to have regrets.

I am tired of trying to please all my friends, but how do I say no?

Saying no to a friend request is not easy, but honesty is the best policy. When you feel pressured to do what others want instead of what you really want to do, try using assertive messages that start with "I" to make your feelings known. Assertive statements are polite statements about what you feel, need, or want. For example, if your friend wants to borrow your brand new shirt and you do not want to lend it to her, you would say: I love this shirt, and I really don't want to lend it to anyone. Establishing healthy personal boundaries is important in maintaining friendships. Good friendships are "give and take" so if you are giving most of the time, it might be time to re-evaluate the friendship.

I want to be a veterinarian, am I smart enough?

To get accepted into a college that prepares you to be a veterinarian, you must have good grades in science and math. It takes at least eight years of college to become a vet. If you want a career working with animals but math and science are not your best subjects, consider jobs in the same career cluster. For example, a Veterinarian Assistant is job that works under the guidance of a Veterinarian. A Veterinarian Assistant generally has to have two years of college. Ask your school counselor for career websites that you can use to research your interest in working with animals.

I don't like my body. How can I be thin like my friends?

Being healthy is not about being thin. Many young women don't like their body shape because they compared themselves to woman in magazines and movies. The media uses tricks like airbrushing to make women look thinner and younger. You inherit your body type from your parents so the best thing you can do is to learn to love the body you are in. Focus on being healthy. Eating right, sleeping right, and exercising will make your true beauty shine.

There is always "girl drama" going on with my friends. How can I stay out of it?

Girl drama is exhausting. Generally, "girl drama" is about gossiping or bullying others. Pledge to stay out of "girl drama" by not passing gossip or bullying others. Choose your friends wisely. Pick friends that are involved in school and sports. Limit the time you spend with someone who loves the "girl drama."

My friend told me she cut herself on her thighs when she is upset over her parents' divorce. Why does she do this?

Some girls cut themselves as a way to reduce their stress, but other girls cut because "everyone is doing it." During stressful times like parents divorcing, kids often feel out of control and anxious, but cutting is not the way to deal with these feelings. The cuts leave scars, can get infected, and increase depression. Healthy ways to manage stress and reduce depression are exercising, playing sports, or having a hobby, journaling or doing any healthy activity that promotes fun. If you feel like cutting yourself, talk to the school nurse, a counselor, or a trusted adult.



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