NUTRITION AND HEALTH

Eating nutritive food through a balanced diet is essential for physical and mental development during this age that prepares you for adulthood. It also prevents you from being under-weight or obese. Therefore make sure that you avoid junk food and increase your intake of green vegetables, fruits and dairy products.

  1. Why should young people eat nutritious food? – Eating nutritive food through a balanced diet is essential for physical and mental development during this age that prepares you for adulthood. It also prevents you from being under-weight or obese. Therefore make sure that you avoid junk food and increase your intake of green vegetables, fruits and dairy products.
  2. What are the benefits of nutrition?– Adequate nutrition that includes protein, iron and other vitamins and minerals, prevents deficiencies like nutritional anaemia. This is especially important for young girls in undergoing menstruation and pregnancy in later years. It helps both boys and girls to have a healthy body, increase productivity and stamina; and improve academic performance.
  3. Why should I pay attention to my health and nutrition? – Healthy eating and regular exercise helps you feel energized, learn better, and stay alert in class. These healthy habits may also lower your risk for diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. Besides, they also help you in maintaining healthy, hair, teeth and skin.
  4. Is hygiene a part of staying healthy? – Of course, without hygienic practices of keeping your body, face, hair, teeth and finger nails clean, you cannot maintain good health and an attractive personality. Bathing and wearing freshly washed clothes everyday also prevents bad body odour. This is especially true for young girls, who must use clean cloth or sanitary napkins with frequent changes during their menstrual periods. It is also important for boys and girls to wash and keep their genital organs clean.
PUBERTY AND SEXUALITY

Adequate nutrition that includes protein, iron and other vitamins and minerals, prevents deficiencies like nutritional anaemia. This is especially important for young girls in undergoing menstruation and pregnancy in later years. It helps both boys and girls to have a healthy body, increase productivity and stamina; and improve academic performance.

  1. What is sexuality? – Sexuality is part of who you are, just like your style of clothing and the way you look.  Discovering your sexuality is a normal part of growing up e.g. trying out a new hairstyle, learning to accept bodily changes according to your sex, etc. Sexuality should not be confused with being or looking sexy.
  2. Is it normal to get thoughts of sex in adolescence ? – Yes absolutely! Sex is not a dirty word. Both boys and girls have equal sexual feelings and body responses. Your desire to talk to the opposite sex increases specifically during adolescence which is natural and healthy. However, it is important to have  self control and restraint over your behaviour, which should never be offensive in any manner.
  3. What are nocturnal emissions or wet dreams in boys? – While sleeping, a boy after the age of 10 years, may become sexually aroused. When this happens, blood rushes to the penis, making it hard and sperms are ejaculated. This is called a wet dream or nocturnal emission and is a normal process.
  4. What is ovulation? – After the girl attains puberty or becomes sexually mature, every month, a female’s ovaries are stimulated and release an egg into the fallopian tubes.  This is called ovulation.
  5. What is menstruation? – Once the egg has been released,  if it is not fertilized by the male’s sperm, it will break apart and will shed along with blood and tissue of the uterine wall. This is called menstruation and it can last between 2-7 days.
  6. At what age does a girl start menstruation? – Most girls begin to menstruate at any time between the ages of 9 to 15 which is called menarche. If you are over 15 and have not started menstruating, consult a doctor to check if you have any health problems. A woman stops menstruating by the time she is 50 years old and this is called menopause.
  7. Are substance abuse, using swear words, eve-teasing, recklessness and violence, a sign of being perceived as ‘macho’? –  No, of course not. Any kind of behaviour that shows disrespect and demeans someone or damages your health and personality, can never be attractive. Since being perceived as ‘macho’ is about being attractive, using these methods will only make you unhealthy and unattractive. In worse cases, they can also lead to unlawful activities.
SEXUAL QUERIES
  1. What is love? Should people in love also have sex? – Love is the feeling of intense liking for someone of the opposite sex and is very normal. However, when you have sex with someone, there can be unwanted complications like pregnancy, feeling of distress, sexual diseases, etc. So, it is best to wait until you are physically and mentally mature; are not distracted from your career goals and have financial independence. You should never have sex just because you want to please someone.
  2. When is the right time to start having sexual intercourse? – The decision to have sex with someone should never be influenced by peer pressure, need for self esteem or temporary infatuation, because this may turn out to be harmful. The best time to indulge in sexual intercourse, is only when you are physically, mentally and emotionally prepared for it and understand its consequences. Sexual intercourse may be followed by unwanted pregnancy, sexual diseases in case of unsafe sex or breaking of a relationship.
  3. How can a girl get pregnant? – When a male penis is inserted near or into the female vagina and semen is ejaculated, the sperms in the semen fertilize the female egg which may result in pregnancy.
  4. Can a girl get pregnant the first time she has sex? Yes,  definitely! Every time you have sex you run the risk of getting pregnant. While various birth control methods can decrease your chances there is no 100% effective form of birth control and all are subject to user error. The only way to guarantee you will not get pregnant is to abstain.
  5. What is meant by the phrase ‘unprotected sex’ or ‘unsafe sex’?  The term unprotected sex means sex without protection against pregnancy and/or Reproductive Tract Infections (RTIs) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) including HIV. It means  having sex without using birth control and STD protection. E.g. male and female condoms, birth-control pills, diaphragm, hormonal implants, etc[1]. Please note that contraceptive methods except condom can only prevent pregnancy but not RTIs/STIs
  6. What is safe sex?Safe sex is sexual activity engaged in by people who have taken precautions to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy. However, most methods of contraception like birth control pills, IUDs, vasectomy and Tubectomy are not effective at preventing of STIs. Usage of condom on the other hand, is one of the most effective methods for practising safe sex. Careful selection of  partner and low risk sexual behaviour are also ways to practice safe sex.
  7. At what age is a boy able to get a girl pregnant? Sex is not like driving or voting, there is no age at which it can happen. If you are a guy and you are having sex, regardless of your age, you can get a girl pregnant. Age is not a reliable way of determining if a guy is able to get a girl pregnant.
  8. Can a virgin boy get a girl pregnant? Yes. Male virgins can get a girl pregnant and female virgins can become pregnant the first time they have sex.
  9. What is intercourse ? Intercourse occurs when the male penis penetrates the female vagina. It can lead to pregnancy or STDs in case of unsafe sex.
  10. What is oral sex? – This includes fellatio, where the penis is stimulated by the partner’s mouth, and cunnilingus, where the vagina receives oral stimulation. Oral sex carries the risk of transmitting disease but not the risk of pregnancy[2].
  11. What is masturbation? – Masturbation means touching and rubbing your penis or clitoris and breasts for sexual pleasure. It’s a normal and healthy way for people to explore their own bodies. How often a person masturbates isn’t a problem, unless it’s linked to an obsessive compulsive disorder where the same activity must be repeated over and over[3].
  12. Is it normal to masturbate? – In young people, many feel nervous or unsure about their developing bodies and sexual feelings. Mixed messages and misinformation about masturbation from parents, friends and the media can make them more anxious. Masturbation means self-pleasuring and is completely safe and normal.
  13. 13.  Why should condoms always be used during sex, except for having a baby? – Since condoms prevent the direct contact of penis and vagina as well as collecting the semen and preventing it from entering the vagina, they are safe and easy to use. It is the only contraception that gives triple protection- protection against STI/STD,protection against HIV and prevent pregnancy.It is a myth that condom usage decreases sexual pleasure and because they are easily available, their consistent  and correct usage is recommended for safe sex.
  14. What  are the do’s and don’ts of using condoms?- Condom usage is one of the simplest methods of having safe sex although it may not be 100% effective. However, this simply means that you must never have sex without condoms unless you want to have a baby. Here are some basic things to remember :
  • You should never use an oil based lubricant (baby oil, cold cream, vaseline, hand cream or any cooking oil) with a condom since it can cause the latex to break.
  • Condom users and/or their partners are less likely to get STI/STDs, pelvic inflammatory disease, HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer[4].
  • Roll the male condom, gradually  to cover the erect or hardened penis entirely. The condom must be removed before the erection ends or the sperm can leak out[5].
  • Use the condom once only, then tie the end and throw it in the garbage. Do not flush it down the toilet.
  • Be careful while using condom that the wrrapper does not have any tear and the expiry date has not gone by.

[1] http://www.wikihow.com/Have-Safer-Sex

[2] http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/what-is-sex-what-counts-as-sex.html

[3] http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Masturbation

[4] http://teenadvice.about.com/od/factsheetsforteens/a/10thingscondom.htm

[5] http://www.pamf.org/teen/sex/birthcontrol/condom.html

SEXUAL HEALTH

What is sexual and reproductive  health? Since, sexuality is a big part of being human and enjoying love, affection and sexual intimacy, it contributes to your sense of well-being. But, a number of disorders can affect the ability to enjoy sex in both men and women including concerns about sexual diseases, infertility or fear of unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, sexual and reproductive health concerns must not be ignored.

What are sexual and reproductive health rights? – All human beings have the right to enjoy sexual and  reproductive health, which is a basis for having healthy children, intimate relationships and happy families. Reproductive health are a part of human rights and emphasizes that every child, especially the girl child is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect[1].

What are sexual diseases? – A number of diseases and disorders affect sexual health. These include sexually transmitted diseases and cancer. In men, treatment of prostate cancer can cause erectile dysfunction. In women, cervical, uterine, vaginal, vulvar or ovarian cancer may have life-threatening consequences. However, if timely recognized and addressed, most sexual diseases are treatable.

What is HIV/AIDS? AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The illness alters the immune system, making people much more vulnerable to infections and diseases[2]. Both the virus and the disease are often referred to together as HIV/AIDS. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. As a result, some will then develop AIDS. It is a myth that people affected with AIDS can be recognized by their looks, sexual orientation or social group. The only way to detect the presence of this virus is through clinical tests.

Where is HIV found? HIV is found in the body fluids of an infected person (semen and vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk). The virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact.

How does HIV spread? HIV can be transmitted in many ways, such as vaginal, oral sex, anal sex, blood transfusion, and contaminated hypodermic needles. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy, delivering the baby during childbirth, and through breast feeding. Therefore, responsible sexual behaviour like consistent use of condoms and careful choice of partner can help in preventing AIDS.

[1] http://www.unfpa.org/rh/

[2] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/17131.php

MARRIAGE
  1. At what age should boys and girls get married? –  Legally a boy of 21 and a girl of 18 can get married. Their bodies are mature by then, but their minds do not.  Even if they get married, they may not be able to cope with pressures and responsibilities of a married life. So, if you plan to get married, make sure that you have  completed your education, begun a career, are economically  independent and able to afford a home for the family. Apart from that you should be well informed about sexual and reproductive health and gradual parenthood. Therefore, it is best to enter into marriage after you are well into your twenties.
  2. What is a healthy relationship? – An intimate relationship like marriage or friendship is one of the most important relationships where it is your  right  to feel safe, respected, and happy. Also, there is a balance of time spent together and you are never made to feel guilty about spending time with your friends or family. Even healthy couples argue and have disagreements. However, in a healthy re­lationship, certain rules are never violated. There is a mutual respect for each other’s opinions, wants, needs, and bod­ies. You want what’s best for your partner and you always want to bring out the best in each other.
  3. Why do trust and openness form the basis of a healthy relationship? –  Without trust, relaibility and openness with each other in every matter regarding fidelity, finances, childcare, decision-making and every other area, a relationship cannot be equal and healthy. It is important to understand that  both partners or spouses have a role in creating a trusting relationship and must at all times give utmost importance to each other’s feelings, opinions and decisions. Since this happens gradually, you must not rush into anything without first taking the time to understand and build trust.
  4. How can we avoid disappointment and resentment in relationships? – A relationship which is not equal and where both partners do not have equal say in most matters, can give rise to silent resentment or open conflict. Where social beliefs like ‘women need to sacrifice themselves for the family’ and ‘only men can take major decisions in the family’ are rampant, healthy relationships cannot develop. It is difficult because many people (unknowingly) expect greater sacrifice from their spouses than they are willing to make themselves. Therefore, both you and your partner must openly discuss the expectations from each, while understanding and respecting the sacrifices that each is ready to make. Also, openly acknowledging and understand the contributions of each other for building a happy relationship .
PREGNANCY
  1. How is sex of a child inside the womb determined ? – Males have XY chromosomes, females have XX  chromosomes. So each parent contributes one chromosomes toward the sex of the offspring. Women can only contribute an X, because they have two Xs. Men can contribute either an X or a Y, because they have both. If the father contributes an X, the baby will be a girl. If the father contributes a Y, it will be a boy.
  2. If a boy ejaculates near a girl’s private parts but his penis does not enter the vagina, can she get pregnant?- Yes, when a sperm gets anywhere near a girl’s private parts, she can become pregnant although it is less likely to happen without penetration. Pregnancy is less likely to occur under these circumstances but it is possible even if a drop enters the vagina.
  3. If a boy ejaculates on a girl’s underwear/over her clothing can she get pregnant?- Yes because, the sperm may soak through the clothes anywhere near a girl’s private parts. She can become pregnant although it is less likely to happen without penetration. Clothing is porous and cannot be considered a barrier method of birth control.
  4. If the girl doesn’t have an orgasm can she still get pregnant?- Yes, a female’s orgasm is not a necessary part of becoming pregnant and there is enough sperm in the pre-ejaculatory fluid of males to cause a pregnancy.
  5. Can pregnancy happen with oral sex?- No a girl or boy cannot get pregnant from giving or receiving oral sex but he/she can get an STD including HIV/AIDS.
  6. What is the best way to make sure I don’t get pregnant (or get someone pregnant)? – Well, the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex. But if you’re going to have sex then you need to make sure you use protection carefully, consistently, and correctly every single time. There are lots of methods of contraception available. Find out about these and  talk to a health care professional to find the method that’s right for you. Remember that only condoms (female and male) will protect you from STIs/HIV.
VIOLENCE
  1. What is sexual harassment – All types of unwanted sexual attention is sexual harassment and can occur in any situation. It occurs when there is power imbalance between victim and abuser. The abuser may assert his power through gender, race, status, class , caste difference or any other means. Sexual harassment can also occur between peers, friends and family apart from strangers and is a crime.
  2. Why is violence against women and girls so commonly accepted in many countries like India? – Due to patriarchal norm followed by the Indian society, women and girls are widely perceived to be inferior as compared to boys. Due to this, they are often shamefully subjugated, controlled and deprived in almost every sphere of life. This is in complete contrast to more progressive societies like Sweden, USA, Australia, etc. where girls do not face this kind of discrimination. As are part of this society, you can bring about a change by asserting equality between both sexes.
  3. How can we make our environment safe for women and girls? – We must recognise the sexualisation of women and girls by the media, society and popular culture, and be sensitive to the way in which females are portrayed negatively as being inferior, submissive, provocative and dependent. Practising gender equality at home and taking immediate steps to prevent all forms of abuse can make our environment safer for them.
  4. How can young people seek protection from violence and abuse? –Due to ‘culture of silence’ in Indian society, girls often suffer in silence. Since they are unaware or afraid, such crimes remain unreported. Violence, both within and outside marriage and family is a crime that should be reported to elders in the family or other trusted members of the society who can provide protection and guidance. In India, women and girls facing violence can seek protection of the law.
MENTAL HEALTH
  1. What are the signs of Depression among adolescents? –  Adolescents and teenagers face many pressures, from the changes of puberty to questions about who they are and where they fit in. The natural transition from childhood towards adulthood can also bring conflict with parents and teachers, as they start to assert their independence. Because of this, it is not always easy to differentiate between depression and normal teenage moodiness. Moreover, adolescents with depression do not always appear sad, depressed or withdrawn. But where symptoms of irritability, aggression, and rage are more prominent, they need sensitive guidance.
  2. What are the consequences of Depression? – Depression in adolescence and teenage are not due to just bad moods are and the occasional melancholy. It is a serious problem that can impact every aspect of your life if left unresolved.  Failing to recognise and address it in time can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, self–loathing, pregnancy, violence, and even suicide.
  3. What are the negative effects of adolescent depression? – Depression during adolescence and youth may escalate into serious problems like rebellious unhealthy behaviours or attitudes. This may further affect their self-esteem, giving rise to situation like:
  • Internet addiction- Adolescents may go online to escape their problems, but excessive computer usage that could lead to addiction to malcontent like pornography or playing games may make them disinterested in studies. This may further result in poor attitude, especially towards females and other harmful behaviours.
  • Low self-esteem – During this period of changes in an adolescent’s life, depression can trigger and intensify feelings of uglinness, shame, resentment, failure, and unworthiness. Through life skills, sports and recreation, they can be taught to build their self-esteem.
  • Problems at school – Depression can cause low energy and concentration difficulties. At school, this may lead to poor attendance, a drop in grades, or frustration with schoolwork in a formerly good student.
  • Reckless behaviour. Depressed young people may engage in dangerous or high-risk behaviours, such as reckless driving, out-of-control drinking/substance abuse, unprotected and unsafe sex and other unlawful behaviours.
  • Running away- Many depressed adolescents think of  running away from home or talk about running away because they perceive a lack of support from family or society.
  • Substance abuse – Adolescents and teenagers  may use smoking, alcohol or drugs in an attempt to find outlets or fit into peer groups to fight depression. Unfortunately, substance abuse traps them in a vicious cycle of despair and disease.
  • Violence. Some depressed young people, usually boys who are the victims of ridicule and bullying at a young age, grow up to become violent. This can destroy their relationships with others and isolate them. In extreme cases, self-hatred and a wish to die can erupt into violence and homicidal rage.
SELF DEVELOPMENT
  1.  Why is self development  a necessary part of growing up during adolescence? – Self development means making special efforts to develop yourself as an individual with equal rights irrespective of your gender, class or community. If you empower yourself by doing well in your studies, learning vocational and life skills and abstain from all forms of abuse and disrepect, you  will develop  as someone who is aware, well informed, responsible and proactive. This will help you to fulfil your dreams as you advance towards adulthood.
  2. What is empowerment? – Empowerment is the ability of a person to take independent decisions based on informed choices and act upon that decision. Equal participation in discussing and making decisions regarding choice of partner and career, negotiating safe sex and availing of equal opportunities in life are examples of empowerment.
  3. What happens if you are not empowered? – If you are not empowered, your life, mind and  body will be controlled by others who may or may not grant you opportunities that are best for you. In some cases, you may have to suffer insults, abuse and demeaning behaviour that stifles your emotional and mental growth. You may receive pity and not respect. This can lead to low self esteem, depression and even suicidal feelings.
  4. Why do some societies regard girls as inferior to boys? – Where patriarchal attitudes and myths predominate, women and girls are considered less important than males in a family.  As a consequence, they face gender discrimination in every sphere of their lives from access to facilities and making career choices. This is especially true in countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Congo, etc. as compared to more equal societies in countries like Norway, USA, Canada, etc.
  5. How do women suffer from gender discrimination in Indian society? – Societal norms in India relegate women and girls to an inferior status, thereby denying them equal rights to food, schooling, mobility, property, freedom of making life choices like career and life partner. By and large household chores and jobs with comparatively lower pay and lower decision-making are given to females. This is further propagated by condescending  behaviour of males in the family towards females in most communities and households.
  6. How can we become more gender sensitive ? – Gender sensitivity begins by having a positive attitude towards establishing equality between men and women in every sphere of life. You can become more gender sensitive by treating both boys and girls as equal and  according mutual respect to people of  both sexes at home, among peers, in the workplace and in the community.