Teen Health at HRHCare
As a teen, you are experimenting with what brand of clothes or hairstyle fits your personality. You have questions about your tricky algebra homework or the best color to wear to the football game. You may even be experimenting with sex or have questions about the changes you see in your body.
At HRHCare, we are here not just to help you make it through high school, but to get you the answers, information, and help you may need.
Let’s talk: What’s next?
Talking with parents or other adults in your life about sex, relationships, and general life isn’t always (or often) an easy thing. Why should you put yourself or your parent through that uncomfortable conversation when you can just ask your friends?
As hard as it might be to believe it, your parents have gone through many of the same situations you are dealing with. Maybe they had weird hairstyles and they still don’t know how to use Facebook, but some issues cross generations. Talking to one or both of your parents can help you understand what choices they made and what happened as a result.
Talking with your partner/boyfriend/girlfriend is definitely something that seems easier than talking to your parents, but having honest, open, and respectful communication isn’t always as easy as it should be. Every relationship should be built on those elements—communication, respect, trust, and honesty. Making sure you have that is so important. Here’s a few ways to open up communication and keep your relationship hot and healthy.
Keep talking. One of the fastest ways to torpedo a relationship is a lack of communication. If your boyfriend or girlfriend says something you don’t understand or don’t agree with, don’t let it fester inside of you. Ask them to explain their point better and talk it through. The same goes for their actions. If they treat you inappropriately, speak up. Use “I” statements: I feel this, I think that. Doing so makes it seem less like you’re accusing them, and they’ll be more likely to really listen to your concerns.
Respect each other. You can’t be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect you. Do they like you for who you really are, or for who you pretend to be when you’re with them? If you can’t be yourself around them, ask yourself why that is. Are you afraid they won’t be into the real you? If the answer is yes, this may not be the right person for you. Your bf or gf should never force you to do or be something you aren’t comfortable with.
Give each other space. You may want to hang out together 24/7, but taking a little time apart is good for every relationship. You know that old saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder?” Well, it’s true! Don’t stop doing the things you love or spending time with friends just because you’re in a relationship. You can’t be a good partner if you lose your identity to the other person.
Trust each other. Trust is a huge piece in the healthy relationship puzzle. You need to trust that person with your heart, your mind, your body…it’s a huge deal. This is especially important when you become physical. Becoming physical with someone you don’t trust will not end well, because trust is the basis of every relationship. You wouldn’t be friends with someone you don’t trust, right? So why would you date them?
Be honest. Lying, secretiveness, cheating…not qualities you ever want in your relationship. Trust and honesty go hand in hand, but without honesty, you can’t begin to build trust in someone. Be open about your feelings and tell your partner what you’re thinking in a compassionate, caring way. What you have to say might be hard for them to hear, but it’s important to always be honest. (Lying to them will hurt even more when they inevitably find out).
My boyfriend/girlfriend wants to do stuff with me, but I’m not sure if I’m ready yet. What should I do?
If you’re not ready, you should say something to your boyfriend/girlfriend. Honest communication is really important in a relationship. If you feel like you are on different pages, it might be good for you to talk about what you’re both expecting (and ready for) in the relationship.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to wait. If you’re not ready to be physical yet, it doesn’t mean that you don’t like your boyfriend/girlfriend (and you can tell him/her that). Relationships can be just as fun and fulfilling without sex, and there’s no specific time when you’re supposed to start having sex. If this person is worth your time, they’ll understand and wait until you’re ready.
Sex should never feel like an obligation. If you’re being pressured to have sex, that’s not a healthy relationship. If you’re not ready or don’t want to have sex, all you should have to say is no. If you’re not being pressured but don’t know how to respond, you might want to have a conversation about what you’re both ready for and comfortable with in terms of getting physical to make sure you’re on the same page. If you don’t want to have sex, say no. If you tell your boyfriend/girlfriend that you’re ready to move forward, but then you change your mind, that’s okay too! If you change your mind, communicate that with your partner.
If you’re ever feeling pressured or intimidated in a relationship, reach out to an adult for help or check out the resources at LoveisRespect.Org. You always deserve to feel safe and respected in a relationship. If someone isn’t respecting you or makes you feel unsafe, they aren’t worth your time.
Having sex will make me more popular though, right?
Your friends are important to you and you value what they think. However, having sex as a way to be popular with your friends isn’t the right way to decide if you are ready or not.
True friends don’t care whether or not you have had sex. True friends support your decision to not have sex.
And when it really comes down to it, how popular would you be with your friends and your boyfriend/girlfriend if you got a sexually transmitted infection or became pregnant/got your girlfriend pregnant?
Will my boyfriend/girlfriend love me more if we have sex? She/he said it would strengthen our relationship.
If your relationship isn’t strong before you have sex, it’s not going to be strong after. Having sex can change a lot of things, but it doesn’t improve the foundation of your relationship. If you’re having problems with your boyfriend/girlfriend, it’s better to talk about it than trying (unsuccessfully) to fix it by having sex.
You should never feel pressured to do anything that you’re not comfortable with in a relationship. A healthy relationship is one where you never feel obligated to please your partner, and you’re able to talk openly and honestly about what you’re both ready to do physically. If your boyfriend is pressuring you into taking things to a level you’re not comfortable with, you should talk to him about it or seek out a trusted adult for support. Someone who really loves you will want to move at a pace that you’re comfortable with instead of pressuring you to go further.
Peeing after sex does not prevent pregnancy. Once the sperm is in your vagina, peeing (or douching or taking a bath) won’t help get it out. While it’s good to pee after sex because that can help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), it will not take the place of birth control. If you believe you may be pregnant, you can visit your HRHCare Health Center for a free and confidential pregnancy test and/or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) test.
That’s why it’s important that you use protection every time you have sex, whether it’s a hormonal method, like the pill, IUD, or a condom. You can also use both a hormonal method and a condom for double protection. Plus, condoms are the only method of birth control that protect against STIs.
To see all of the methods available to you, talk with your HRHCare provider.
Nope! There’s no age limit on condoms, and both girls and guys can buy them at any local drug store.
There aren’t age restrictions on birth control, and the American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends long acting birth control, like the implant or the IUD for teens. However, these hormonal methods do require a doctor’s visit and usually some kind of co-pay or other cost. If you’re interested in a long-acting method, make an appointment at your HRHCare Health Center and ask your provider some questions, like: Do you offer IUDs and the implant? Is there a co-pay? If so, how much? I’m a minor—will this be confidential or will my parents find out through billing about this visit?
You can also consider a non-hormonal method like male condoms or female condoms which are available in drugstores and health centers. Emergency contraception—even though it’s not meant to be your regular birth control—is also available at drugstores.
If you want to learn more about the types of birth control that are available to you, have a chat with your doctor.
This is not possible. In order for pregnancy to happen, semen has to get inside the vagina. From there, the sperm that are in the semen swim up through the cervix and uterus into the fallopian tubes. If someone swallows semen, the semen goes through a totally different body system. However, it is possible to get sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by giving or receiving oral sex (regardless of a person’s sex), including herpes. If you and your partner plan to have oral sex, the safest way is to use latex barriers, which even come in flavored varieties. It’s also a really good idea for you and your partner to get tested for STIs before having oral, anal or vaginal sex. You can get tested for STIs at any HRHCare Health Center.
If you’re having sex, your best bet is to use birth control—ideally, use a hormonal method and a condom (to help prevent STIs as well as pregnancy). There’s a ton of birth control methods out there, so check out our Birth Control Explorer to find one that works best for you.
Yes! Any time that you have sex—even during your period—there’s a chance you’ll get pregnant, especially if you’re having unprotected sex. Many women have irregular period cycles or unpredictable ovulation, and it’s especially common for teens to have irregular cycles. Plus, sperm can stay alive and swimming in the body for days after sex.
New York State Laws, Regulations, and Rights for Teens:
You are considered a minor (someone who is not an adult) if you are under 18 years old. This is a legal status that lawmakers created for your protection. We want you to be informed because being a “minor” affects your right to information and services.
In the eyes of the law, teenagers of certain ages cannot consent or agree to sex until they reach a specific age. This is called the “age of consent.” These laws are meant to protect minors from being manipulated or forced into sex with older people. In New York, you can legally consent to sexual intercourse when you become 17 years old.
You don’t need permission from your parent or guardian to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV in your state. But you need a permission from your parent or guardian to be treated if you test positive for HIV. If you test positive for HIV or another STI and receive treatment, the health care provider may legally discuss this with your parents.
Your state offers both anonymous and confidential HIV testing. This means that if you get tested for HIV, you can choose to either have your results confidentially reported to the health department using your name, or have your results anonymously reported to the health department using a number code, not your name.
Teens of any age can buy condoms from a drugstore, pharmacy, grocery store, or even online. They are relatively inexpensive. You can get condoms for free from an HRHCare Health Center. You can also receive a free pregnancy test at HRHCare.
All minors are allowed to get a prescription for birth control without a parent’s permission.
To make sure your visit is confidential, tell the clinic staff how to contact you about test results and future appointments without your parents knowing.
Information from stayteen.org
Information from sexetc.org/action-center/sex-in-the-states/
If you have questions about contraceptives, sex, or relationships, it’s always good to ask your doctor! What you tell a doctor is confidential, which means it is kept between both of you. The only time a doctor will tell someone is if you or someone else may be in danger. You can see a doctor at our Health Centers to talk about reproductive health, contraception, STIs, pregnancy tests, and other related health concerns without your parents if you are over 13.
Goals & the Future
Everyone has ideas about the future. You might be thinking about your life in 15, 10, or 5 years. You might just be thinking about the next 5 minutes. But it’s important to think about short term and long term goals. Yes, it might sound great to eat 10 cupcakes in one sitting, but in 45 minutes, you’re probably going to be in some pain and discomfort. Thinking about what you want now and what you’ll want later are both important to your future.
If you’re not sure what kinds of goals you want to set, it’s good to think about what you like and what your values are.
Take a look at some of these values:
Acceptance Community Commitment
Compassion Confidence Education
Family Friendship Honesty
Humor Integrity Independence
Love Respect Responsibility
Self-respect Spirituality Trust
Think about which ones you identify with. Are there things coming to mind that aren’t listed? That’s okay too!
Once you’ve picked some values, think about the ways you already make decisions based around them. If you value education and you always make sure you study for a test, no matter how easy it might be, that’s a great way of seeing how much you value education. The same can be said for the rest of them!
Once you know how you already use these traits and values, think about how you can use them in the future. If community is very important to you, what kinds of goals can you set for the future to make sure you’re involved and improving your community?
When making goals, it can seem really overwhelming to just look at the finished result and compare it to where you are now. Maybe you want to shave two minutes off your mile time. That’s not something that can happen overnight, and that can feel discouraging. One way to stick with your goals is to make sure they are SMART goals.
SMART goals are: