Social Media Safety

Social Media. What a big topic. There are so many different websites and apps you may use every day to communicate with you friends and family. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are just a few of the biggest ones. Did you know that the teenager spends an average of 9 hours on their phone and/or online on their computer? Think about it. When you wake up, what is the first thing you look at? When you are riding to school, what are you doing? When you walk between classes or are waiting for a ride home… When you’re bored or even right before bed… what is the very last thing you do for the day? You most likely check your phone. Social media is a huge influence on your daily life and as such, it is important we talk about it here and that you are safe in how you use it.

What do you think about before you make a post on social media?
Do you think about the content in your pictures? Or who can see them? Even if you have a harmless photo you want to post, do you think about how your location is being shared with everyone that sees it? Turn off those location services. If you are being followed on Instagram by a stranger, sharing your location can be dangerous. Even the background in your photo can give your location away.

Do you think it is okay to post suggestive pictures or videos on social media? Or to send to people through email or text message?
No! This is not okay. This is truly dangerous. There is never a way to keep your photos or posts completely private. Anyone that sees your photo can easily share it with others. Sharing “sexy” or “nude” photos while underage actually qualifies as child pornography. Posting or sharing photos (even if they are of someone else) can lead to child pornography charges, jail time, or you may have to register as a sex offender!

Social Media Safety Tips:

  • Check your default settings – Most apps will default to the most public exposure. Some apps can share your location with your friends without you knowing. This becomes especially dangerous when you friend people you do not actually know, a setup for predators and stalkers. (ie. Snapchat)
  • Do NOT share your passwords
  • Friend only those you know – Strangers can see everything. Even the backgrounds in your photos can give away your location.
  • Never post personal information – Such as phone number or address. If you need to share this information with a friend, do so in a private message or phone call.
  • THINK before you post – Think many times about what you are going to post! Why are you posting it? What is it of? Would you be concerned if your parents, family or teachers saw this photo or post?
  • Avoid using location services
  • Don’t agree to meet someone in person that you met online
  • Posting, sending, or forwarding suggestive photos can get you in trouble with the law, a serious crime

Below are some video links to teenagers own stories about social media safety:

http://www.nsteens.org/Videos/InformationTravels
http://www.nsteens.org/Videos/SurvivorDiaries

Social Media – How Does it Make You Feel?

Do you think about how your words might affect those around you? What about your posts? Do you think about the content in your pictures? Your posts on social media can cause others to feel left out, feel jealousy, or even be hurt by actions and words you share on the internet. Most likely, you have felt the same way due to another person’s posts. There are numerous studies showing that the time teenagers spend on social media correlates with increasing rates of depression, low self-esteem, and stress.

What do you typically see on Facebook or Instagram? Is what your friends post real? Is what you post real? Do you ever take 20 photos of the same thing and go through each photo trying to find the perfect shot? Most often what you see scrolling through your newsfeed is edited reality. These posts have been shaped to look like the best times of someone’s daily life. People are much less likely to share about their hard days and struggles. Seeing these glamorous photos of shopping trips, new clothes, amazing vacations, and awesome parties makes you wonder, “Why don’t I get to do those things?” “Why was I not invited to those parties?” “Am I not good enough?” “Why don’t I look like that?” You must remember, these posts are not reality.

Below are some great articles, that while they are directed more toward parents, have some great insight from teenagers and how they have felt dealing with the influence social media has on their life.

The Dove Social Media Project – click this link

Social Media and Self Doubt – click this link

How Does Social Media Affect Teens? – click this link
An article written by a teen with an interest in learning how social media is affecting the daily life of teenagers around the world – A really interesting read!

A Challenge for our Readers:

 

  • No phone or social media for 1 to 2 hours a day. Do something else you enjoy such as sports, listening to music, crafting, or another hobby.
  • Write about how this makes you feel!

 

Explore life outside of the likes, emojis, and the internet. Learn to love yourself for who you are. You do not need approval of instagram, facebook, etc, to see how amazing you are. Spend time with yourself to learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, what makes you unique, and what you enjoy doing. Spend time with family without electronics and just enjoy each others company!

 

**If you are struggling with strong feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or depression, please reach out to someone. You can talk with your parents, a school counselor, a teacher, or even your doctor. The effect social media can have on your mood is very real. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

 

Healthy Boundaries

What are boundaries and how are they important? Boundaries are the physical and emotional limits a person establishes in his/her relationships. Most boundaries reflect our personal preferences or our values. Knowing and maintaining these boundaries keeps us safe, healthy, and true to ourselves. Take some time to reflect on what your own boundaries are. Do you have boundaries between you and your friends? Do you have boundaries between you and a guy you are dating at school? Why do you have them? Take the time to think through this and get to know yourself and your boundaries. Keep these boundaries in mind and stick to them. They will help you stay well emotionally and socially. They will help you have healthy relationships.

Below are some scenarios that you can read through and think about how you would respond.

Scenario 1:
A guy at your school has started showing you some attention. Lately, he is constantly texting, calling, showing up at your locker and at your lunch table. He is just always around trying to get your attention. He’s also trying to get you to come over to his house when no one is home, but you are unsure about that.  You really like him, but sometimes when you don’t text or call him right back he gets mad at you. He has a car and one day he offers to give you a ride home from school.  While in the car you are talking and laughing and the next thing you know you are pulling up to his house. You tell him you really need to go home, but he insists that he just needs to go inside real quick to get something and tells you to come with him.

– Is what he’s doing okay? No. He should respect your boundaries.
– What can you do in this situation? Do not give in to pressure. Stand up for your boundaries and yourself. If he refuses to drive you home, call a friend, or even better, call an adult.

Scenario 2:
Your boyfriend has been putting you down, both in private and in public when you are around friends. He makes fun of your mannerisms by accentuating them and laughing. He makes negative comments about your looks and tells you that you are lucky you have him because no one else would want you.

– Is this a healthy relationship? No. Maybe it started out as one. However, relationships can change. Know that you can always choose to leave a relationship. You should be with someone that supports you and respects you.

Scenario 3:
A teacher or coach you admire seems to favor you over the other students. He has “accidentally” touched your breast and buttocks on a few occasions. He appears when you are alone in the locker area sometimes too. You don’t want to hurt his feelings and you know he has control over whether you start on the team or not/your grade, but his behavior is making you uncomfortable.

– Who can you tell? Tell an adult. It could be another teacher at school, the principal, or your parents. It is important to tell someone. This behavior is unacceptable. It may be hard since you look up to this person and it may be very confusing that someone you look up to could make you feel uncomfortable. But it is important to know that no one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable. A coach or teacher should never encroach on your privacy or touch you in private areas. Even if you feel that they have power over your position on the team or a grade in class, you should tell someone. Your position and your grade will be protected.

 

Healthy Boundaries:
– If you ever feel uncomfortable, tell someone. You are never wrong to feel uncomfortable.

– Be aware of your surroundings. This includes places and people. Try to not put yourself in risky or compromising situations as best you can.

– Friendships and relationships change. If a friend starts to push you beyond your boundaries, or make you feel pressured, they are not a good friend and it is not a healthy relationship.

– Surround yourself with people that are supportive of you and encourage you to be your best! Support those around you as well!

True or False?

Below are some common questions we get as well as some myths we have heard… test your own knowledge on these concepts! The answers are provided below.

True or False?

  1. Using douches and scented products inside my vagina is completely safe and healthy.
  2. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can lead to infertility (not being able to have children).
  3. It’s not possible to get pregnant before your first period.
  4. Peeing after sex reduces the chance of getting an STI or a urinary tract/bladder infection.
  5. You can’t pee if you have a tampon in.
  6. It is unhealthy to bathe or swim while on my period.
  7. If a boy or girl gets an STI, their partner will definitely be able to tell.
  8. If a girl is on birth control pills, she doesn’t have to keep using condoms during sex.
  9. A girl can get pregnant even if her partner does not ejaculate or “come” inside her.
  10. If someone gets an STI once, they can not get it again.
  11. It’s impossible to get pregnant if I have sex in water (pool, hot tub).
  12. Shaving keeps my vagina clean.

Answers:

  1. Using douches and scented products inside my vagina is completely safe and healthy. – False
  2. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can lead to infertility (not being able to have children). – True
  3. It’s not possible to get pregnant before your first period. – False. You can get pregnant before your first period since ovulation occurs before menstruation.
  4. Peeing after sex reduces the chance of getting an STI or a urinary tract/bladder infection. – False
  5. You can’t pee if you have a tampon in. – False
  6. It is unhealthy to bathe or swim while on my period. – False
  7. If a boy or girl gets an STI, their partner will definitely be able to tell. – False.
  8. If a girl is on birth control pills, she doesn’t have to keep using condoms during sex. – False
  9. A girl can get pregnant even if her partner does not ejaculate or “come” inside her. – True
  10. If someone gets an STI once, they can not get it again. – False
  11. It’s impossible to get pregnant if I have sex in water (pool, hot tub). – False
  12. Shaving keeps my vagina clean. – False

Contraception

Contraception essentially is a method to prevent pregnancy; and there are different types of contraception. Besides preventing pregnancy, many women are on contraception to help regulate their periods and/or reduce menstrual symptoms. So which one is the best to use? Honestly, that is a personal preference, so it is good to do your research and find out which one works best for your lifestyle. Your doctor is a great resource to ask, so don’t feel afraid to talk to him/her about it during your next visit if you are interested! In the meantime, here is some information about the most popular types.

Birth control pills (also called oral contraception pills or OCPs): When most people think of birth control, they think of the pills. With this form, you must take a small pill once a day around the same time. Most pills contain estrogen and progestin, two hormones that are naturally made in the body. With birth control pills, the hormones in the pill prevent ovulation. So what are the downsides to the pill? You have to remember to take it every day. Some women like to set alarms on their phones to help them remember every day.

Nuvaring: This is a bendable plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina and kept there for 3 weeks, then removed to allow for a period for one week. This ring also contains hormones so it works like the pills. Again, you have to remember to leave the ring in for 3 weeks and then take it out for 1 week to have a period. Also, use a new ring every month; reusing the same Nuvaring makes it less effective.

Depo-Provera shot: This form of contraception is a shot you get at the doctor’s office about every 12 weeks/3 months. It contains the hormone progestin, which prevents ovulation but also thickens cervical mucus; both methods that help prevent pregnancy. The big downside that women report with the shot is weight gain; the shot increases your appetite and makes you want to eat.

Intrauterine device (IUD): This is a small T-shaped device that is inserted into your uterus at the doctor’s office. It is called a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) because the IUD is effective against pregnancy for 3-10 years (depending on what IUD you receive). While many women report initial pain when having the IUD inserted into the uterus, many women rave about it because it is essentially a “set it and forget it” form of contraception. There’s nothing to remember once it is inserted, and you have a very effective form of contraception for years.

Nexplanon: This is also a LARC that is a small plastic rod inserted into your upper arm in the doctor’s office. As a LARC, it is also a “set it and forget it” kind of contraception that is good for up to 3 years. Many women can feel the device in their arm, but it doesn’t bother them! A side effect some women report is small unexpected bleeding.

Condoms: With all these other forms of contraception, something to keep in mind is that they DO NOT protect against STDs. Condoms must be used to protect against STDs. Repeat, condoms are the only form of contraception that prevents against STDs!

Abstinence: This is the only 100% method effective against pregnancy. The best way to not get pregnant is to not have sex.

HPV and the Gardasil Vaccine

What is HPV?
HPV stands for Human papillomavirus. It is currently the most common STI with around 80 million Americans infected. It can cause genital warts and later on, can cause cervical cancer. Some people may not have symptoms, so you may not know if your partner or even yourself has it!

What can I do to prevent or look out for HPV?
1. Ask your doctor if you have gotten the GARDASIL vaccine.
It is given to girls and boys ages 9-26. The Gardasil9 protects against 9 types of HPV! It is typically a 2 or 3 shot series and started around ages 11 or 12. Just think, if you prevent HPV in the first place, you can protect yourself against a type of cancer!
2. The pap smear during your well woman visits (OBGYN) can tell if HPV is present.
Starting at age 21, all women are screened for HPV and cervical cancer through a pap smear. This test takes a look at the cells in your cervix and can detect infection or cancerous changes.

Sexually Transmitted Infections – What You Should Know

Below is some information on a couple different STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). It is important to know that some of these can be treated while some cannot. Both can have devastating effects. Some STIs can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and result in infertility. It is important to care for yourself now so that you can also be healthy for your future!

How can you protect yourself?
– Safe practices: use a condom or practice abstinence
– Know your partner and ask about their STI history

Feminine Hygiene – The “Eeew” Topic

Now that we’ve spent some time talking about female anatomy, we can talk about some (more) slightly uncomfortable, yet very important topics involving hygiene. For instance, taking into account your anatomy, you know the urethra is at the front of your pelvic area, whereas the anus is at the back. This is why it is so important to wipe front to back in order to avoid spreading bacteria and causing a urinary tract infection. Some related myths you may have debunked since learning more about your anatomy is that you cannot pee with a tampon in. This is false. Your tampon is inserted into the vagina, a second opening behind your urethra, where you pee from. Also, there is a myth that peeing after sex prevents UTIs. This has never been proven. If you think about it, these are, again, two different areas – the urethra and the vagina.

Some other common questions many young women have:
Should I shave in that area?
– Shaving can actually do more harm than good. Shaving can cause ingrown hairs and even infections. Instead, think about trimming. The hair provides a natural protection barrier against bacteria and is beneficial!
Doesn’t douching keep my vagina cleaner?
– Actually, douching isn’t recommended because it can change the pH of your vagina. The pH of your vagina is necessary for the “good” bacteria that lives there. This “good” bacteria prevents overgrowth of “bad” bacteria that can cause infections. When you douche, you are actually cleaning out protective bacteria and increasing your risk for infection! Your vagina naturally cleans itself! You should also avoid using scented soaps in that area, as they can also change the pH. Some people are even sensitive to the scents and can end up with a rash and irritation.
Is it better to use pads or tampons?
– It really is your preference. You can use whatever is more comfortable for you. Just remember, you need to change pads/tampons frequently depending on your flow. As a general rule, try to change them at least every 4 hours. Avoid super-high-absorbency tampons if possible and use the lowest absorbency that meets your needs. Give your body a break from tampons and use a heavy absorbent pad at night or try and use pads on your lightest days.

Any other questions? Feel free to contact us by email at wellgirlstl@gmail.com and we will try our best to get back to you!

The Female Reproductive System – What does it all mean?

The female reproductive system is responsible for multiple functions like having monthly periods, becoming pregnant and having children, and even having those period-related chocolate cravings and mood swings. The external reproductive system (which includes all the visible aspects) includes the major labia, minor labia, vagina, and clitoris. Also remember there is a separate opening in which you urinate called the urethra; this is different from the vagina. Therefore, you can wear a tampon and also have the ability to urinate/pee because the “pee hole” and the “tampon hole” are two separate things. The internal reproductive system (which includes all the invisible aspects) includes the uterus, fallopian tubes, and the ovaries. These organs are important for regulating your periods every month. In addition, when women become pregnant, the baby grows inside the uterus.
So how does a period actually work? It all has to do with our female reproductive system that works through a monthly cycle. At the beginning of the cycle, women bleed/menstruate because the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) sheds. Then, thanks to the hormone estrogen, the lining of the uterus starts to grow again over the next couple of weeks after the period.  About 2 weeks after the period, there is an ovulatory phase; this essentially means the ovaries release an egg that travels to the uterus. It is at this time that there comes a crossroads. If sperm is present, the egg and sperm will fertilize to make an embryo which eventually becomes a fetus and pregnancy occurs. If there is no sperm, the body goes through a phase in which another hormone, called progesterone, takes over. This phase, the luteal phase, is where women get prementrual syndrome aka PMS aka when women can tell their period is about to happen. Symptoms like moodiness, food cravings, and breast tenderness occur; and at this point, most women know that Aunt Flow is about to make her monthly visit. The cycle then starts all over again when women have a period once again. Overall, women’s menstrual cycles last from 21-35 days, so don’t be alarmed if your periods aren’t exactly every 4 weeks. Everyone’s body is different, and if your period comes after 3.5 weeks or 5 weeks, don’t sweat it!

What is Wellness?

Wellness is a word you may or may not have heard applied to physical health. However, wellness is more than just physical health. A few definitions you might find include:

– “The state or condition of being in good physical and mental health.”
– “A choice to take responsibility for the quality of one’s life.”
– “A process of learning and practicing healthy choices to achieve a balanced and successful lifestyle.”

Wellness is actually an active process through which people self-evaluate and makes steps toward living a positive, healthy, and successful lifestyle. This involves many different dimensions – your personal life, passions and interests, your physical health and knowledge about your own health, your social life, boundaries and relationships, and how you spend your time each day…. even more so now than even 5 to 10 years ago, this involves time spent on your phone, computer, and social media. Wellness includes your self worth, self confidence, and your contribution to the community around you – your family, friends, and even your neighborhood and city!

Throughout this site, you will find several resources to focus on the different aspects of wellness. We hope you find these posts both helpful and encouraging!