Dr Phil | Archived Questions

I'm 14 and have this itchiness down below...what is it? And how can I get it to go away? Please answer it’s really embarrassing and it’s been like it for a while now, I can hardly remember it not being like it. I REALLY HATE IT PLEASE HELP.

Without knowing further details it is hard to work out why you are experiencing itchiness down below. For example, is the itching inside or outside.  It might be a good idea to see your GP to discuss your symptoms and how long it has been going on. It could be that you have an infection that won’t go away on its own and needs further treatment. There is no need to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed and it is important that you do get the symptoms checked out as soon as you can so that if there is an infection it can be treated straight away.
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I’m 12 ½ and need some answers to my questions.
I’m too scared to ask my parents about things like this, so here goes. I was wondering how long until I got my period, I know you get it 2 years after your breasts start to grow and in between 8-16 years of age. However I can’t remember when they started to grow… 

Everybody is different when it comes to puberty and development, there is no definite answer as to when you will get your period. 
Most girls will get their first period (menarche) as you said between the ages of 8-16 however some girls might not get their period until after this. When you first get your period is usually influenced by height, weight and cultural background.
For menstruation to occur, body fat needs to be about one quarter of your total weight. If you are athletic and muscular, it might take longer for your period to start.

Hi, I recently had unprotected sex however my boyfriend did not ejaculate. I still however took the morning after pill, but accidently took the second pill only about 6 hours after the first one because I miss-heard the information. Will this still work? And also, just to be sure I took a pregnancy test 5 days after intercourse and it read up negative, but how accurate is this only 5 days after? I'm a bit worried although at this stage I'm not really showing any symptoms.

Recent data from the World Health Organisation suggests that it is just as effective to take both the morning after pills at the same time as it is to take them 12 hours apart. So there is no need to worry about taking the second pill 6 hours after the first one, however, the ‘morning after pill’ is only 95% effective in preventing pregnancies if taken within 12 hours of unprotected sex (the effectiveness decreases the longer you wait to take the pill). For more information download the emergency contraception fact sheet here.

Pregnancy tests are quite sensitive and they can detect whether or not you are pregnant as early as 7 days after conception. These days it is not necessary to wait until your period is late before you test. If used correctly, home pregnancy tests are quite accurate, although if taken too soon it may give you a false reading and say that you are not pregnant when in fact you might be (false negative); it might be a good idea if you are still concerned to take another home pregnancy test in a couple of days or alternatively visit your GP who will perform a blood test to see whether or not you are in fact pregnant.

As you have had unprotected sex it might be a good idea to talk to your GP or nearest sexual health clinic about getting an STI test for both you and your partner as there are some sexually transmitted infections that have no symptoms at all such as Chlamydia.
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What is thrush? Is it itching on your vagina?

Thrush is caused by an overgrowth of candida yeast that can cause irritation in the genitals or mouth/throat. Thrush isn’t sexually transmitted – the candida overgrowth can occur as a result of antibiotics, when your immunity is low, as a result of diabetes, and other various causes. In women thrush in the genitals can result in vaginal itchiness, vaginal soreness and stinging, superficial pain when urinating, a thick whitish/yellow discharge, redness and swelling and or pain during sex. If you think that you may have thrush then you can go to your chemist where you can buy anti-fungal creams, or tablets without a prescription and saline baths can be useful as well.

I want to use tampons but my mum's worried that I'll get hurt and all and she doesn't want me too. But I really want too because I love swimming and I find it way more comfortable. When using pads, are they meant to be itchy?

It is understandable for your mum to be worried about you; however there is no need for her to be concerned. When used correctly tampons are extremely safe to use and should not cause you any harm. there are a number of tampons on the market that are suitable for first time users and it might just be a case of discussing with your mum your concerns and needs and also let her know that you want to go swimming and having your period should not have to interrupt your daily activities.

The only thing to be concerned about with tampons is toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a very rare, but life-threatening, bacterial infection that a very small number of women that use tampons can get. Studies have shown that using the super absorbent tampons, and leaving tampons in the vagina for long amounts of time, increase the risk of developing TSS. To prevent TSS wash your hands before inserting a tampon, change your tampon every four to six hours (especially on heavy flow days), and use the lowest absorbency tampon that is reasonable dependent on the amount of your menstrual flow. Symptoms include a sudden high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, fainting, dizziness, or a rash similar to sunburn.

With regards to pads - sometimes they can cause itchiness, it might be the actual brand of pads that you have a reaction to or it could also be sweat and bacteria that is trapped. For the itching to stop it may just be a case of changing your pad more frequently or trying out different brands.
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I’m just wondering - what's the youngest age a girl can start taking The Pill? I know the legal age to have sex is 16 and you need a prescription for the pill - but I have a friend who was able to get it at 15....

You can get a prescription for contraception including the oral contraceptive pill if you are under 18 if the doctor thinks you are mature enough to understand what you are doing and also if your doctor believes you will use the contraceptive properly.

If you are under 16 the doctor can still prescribe you contraception if he or she thinks you are mature enough to understand everything involved.

It is legal to prescribe the pill to most young women, without their parents' consent. The doctor will ask you a series of questions to ensure that you understand how to take the pill and how it works. However, it is also a good idea to talk to your parents about taking contraception if you feel comfortable to do so.

In order to determine whether or not the Pill is a good option for you, your GP will do a physical exam and evaluate your medical history. This check-up and discussion at your visit are important because some women have risk factors that would make other forms of contraception better choices for them.

Remember only condoms provide both contraception and protection against STIs and there is no age limit to buying condoms.

I’m 17, & am happily taken by my boyfriend of 2 months. The other night we were "close" & he fingered me. When I went to the toilet I realised there was blood on my undies, there wasn’t a lot but there was some. This isn’t the first time, when I was with my ex-bf we did the same thing & there was blood as well. Is something wrong with me?

It is normal for some women to bleed after being penetrated for the first time. The bleeding is often caused by stretching of the hymen until it tears.

There is also a possibility that your vaginal wall could have experienced a tear or cut from your partner’s finger nails due to insufficient lubrication – sometimes fingers can tear or rip the vaginal wall or even hymen and cause bleeding. To prevent this from recurring it is important that you are aroused and lubricated before your boyfriend inserts any fingers inside you, and that he has clean hands. Lubricant such as KY jelly can be useful if you are not sufficiently aroused.

It might be a good idea to also see your local family planning/sexual health centre or your GP and have a check up to see if you have any infections. Your GP will ask you for details about the bleeding, such as colour, consistency and he or she may will also examine you to see where the bleeding is coming from. This and other information will help to determine or rule out other possible causes, and get appropriate diagnosis and treatment for you.
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Alright this is kinda hard to explain but I’m going to give it a shot, I have noticed that there is a large lump and it is obscuring the hole. It’s been there for as long as I can remember, it hurts when I try to use tampons, and I’m really worried about it. Is this normal? The lump is the same colour as my skin, and doesn’t hurt to touch, is this normal? Or is there something wrong?

Thank you

Lumps at the vaginal opening can often be caused by cysts. On either side of the vaginal opening is a pair of glands called the Bartholin or vestibular glands. The Bartholin gland produces lubrication in the vulva's inner lips (lubrication helps with penetration).

If the opening to either of these glands becomes blocked, a Bartholin cyst is formed that can make a bulge in the lip near the opening of the vagina. The cyst can also swell and become tender. Small, uninfected cysts may not have to be treated, but should be monitored by your GP or health care provider.

Without examining you it is hard to say what the lump is exactly. It would be a good idea to go to your GP/sexual health centre and have a full examination and receive treatment if required.
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Hi Doc,

I want to know whether there is any medical test to check whether any girl has had sex in the last 1 year? Please let me know whether it is possible to know and if yes, what’s the name of the test? Waiting for a prompt response - George

There is no way of testing whether or not a woman has had sex in the past year. There isn’t even an accurate way of determining whether or not someone is a virgin as sometimes a girl can tear her hymen during some forms of physical exercise such as gymnastics, horse riding and bike riding. It is also possible for girls to have intact hymens even after having sex as it can stretch.

Whatever your reasons may be for wanting to find out is really a woman’s private matter whether or not she has had sex in the past and whether or not to tell you. The only thing that she should disclose to you is if she has an STI that she knows about or if she has had unprotected sex in the past and is at risk of having an STI. Otherwise it is up to her what she chooses to disclose to you.

Hello! I'm was really new to the idea of sex and all, and I read a part in the website that the sperm can meet with the eggs other than the ways of intercourse. Is this right? And how? I don’t want to do it but I’m just curious because that was what I thought - the only way. Is my question stupid? Anon

Yes, that is correct – there is a small chance that you can become pregnant other than through intercourse. It is possible to get pregnant if you are ovulating and your partner has ejaculated on or around your vagina. It is also possible that if your boyfriend has sperm on his hands and then touches you that you may become pregnant. If you want to avoid becoming pregnant always use a condom.
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My question is as follows - Does a male penis foreskin slips back and breaks during his first intercourse and results in bleeding. If yes then will the use of a condom will prevent it from slipping and breaking?

When an uncircumcised male has an erection, the foreskin can roll back to allow the penis to lengthen. The foreskin does not break during first intercourse and you shouldn’t experience any bleeding. Some foreskins are long enough to cover the head of the penis when it is erect; other foreskins are not, so the head of the penis is exposed during an erection. The foreskin usually retracts during intercourse and shouldn’t cause you any discomfort. If you are having difficulty with your foreskin sliding back (Phimosis) it is a good idea to see your doctor.

I’m seriously stressing out. It's probably stupid but about 3 weeks ago I gave my bf a hand job and eventually he got his cum all over his hands by accident u know well anyways, without washing his hands, he fingered me a couple of minutes later - can u get pregnant like this???Because I think I missed my period n I’ve been pretty tired, and I’m getting lower stomach aches. I’m only 15. I’m probably totally over thinking it but can you please reassure me

Yes it is possible to become pregnant without having intercourse. If your boyfriend touched you and he still had ejaculation on his hands and if you were ovulating at the time then there is a chance that you may be pregnant. It is a good idea to take a home pregnancy test seeing as though you missed your period (you can buy these from the supermarket or chemist). If it comes up as positive then make an appointment to see your doctor.
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I recently went on the pill but I have had a few problems with it – firstly I missed a pill so took the pill late then the next one as normal, then a couple of days later I had some spotting so I went off the pill… but I didn’t get my period. I thought you were supposed to get your period as soon as you come off the pill? Could I be pregnant?

It may take some time for your body to get into its own natural cycle after the initial withdrawal from synthetic hormones. There are a number of factors that could affect this such as whether or not your cycle was regular prior to going on the pill. If there is a possibility that you are pregnant then it is a good idea to take a pregnancy test which are quick, simple and are very accurate and will usually become positive within a few days of the missed period. If the test comes up as negative and you still believe that there is a chance that you are pregnant then you can go to your GP or sexual health centre to find out for sure with a quick blood test which will determine the HCG levels in your system and determine whether or not you are pregnant.
If pregnancy can be ruled out then you need to give it some time and it might take a couple of months. If your period cycle still hasn’t returned to normal after 8 weeks and it was regular before then you need to visit your Dr to confirm if there are any other reasons that your period hasn’t returned to normal such as hormonal reasons, stress etc. It is not all that unusual for your periods to become less regular when you stop taking the Pill, because the hormone withdrawal bleeds you were getting whilst taking it have now stopped and your body will be finding its own natural cycle dependent on the hormones which you produce. It is likely that your periods will regulate themselves over the next 2-3 months.


I'm an 18 yr old girl & I have been sexually active since I was 15. I have taken the morning after pill a few times. My friend told me that if u take it at least 3 times there's a 90% chance that I won't b able 2 have children. Is this true? I want to go on the pill but I have a hormone imbalance and don't know how the pill will affect that.... I haven't consulted a Dr because I had a really good that I was confident in but he moved out of my area. Now I am afraid that anyone else won't be as efficient....

Taking the morning after pill (emergency contraception) has no affect on your future fertility. There has been no data to suggest that taking emergency contraception more than once will affect your future fertility. There also is no limit to the amount of times that you can take the morning after pill, however the only thing that may prevent you having children after having unprotected sex is due to contracting an STI such as Chlamydia that can cause infertility. It is always important to practice safer sex and the best protection is using both barrier and hormonal methods such as the condom (barrier) and the pill (hormonal) which will protect you from both unplanned pregnancies and contracting an STI. For more information on emergency contraception click here.

With regards to taking the oral contraceptive pill and issues with your hormone imbalance, the pill usually levels out any hormone imbalances that you may have as it is providing you with a constant dose of hormones. It may be a good idea for you to discuss this with your GP or local family planning clinic further.

Sometimes it can be difficult in finding a GP that you can trust and feel confident in discussing all your sexual health concerns, however a good way to find out is to ask your friends or relatives that live close by and ask if they have any recommendations about any particular Drs that they have had past success with.
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I’m a 12 year old girl and I just recently started masturbating and it felt ok - I didn’t get an orgasm and nothing really happened. Is 12 too young to start?

It is not really an issue about how old you are – it is more the case of whether or not you are ready to start exploring your sexuality. When you are ready, it is just a matter of doing what feels right for you. Don’t put any stress or pressure on your self or have expectations about how you should be feeling. You really need to be in the right frame of mind and be in the right environment and in the right mood for arousal - don’t just do it for the sake of it.

In fact many girls that report that they have never had an orgasm have in fact but they just didn’t know it was an actual orgasm. It is all about doing whatever feels good to you and that is all that matters. If you find that what you are doing is pleasurable then keep it up.

Well I am 12 and I have missed out on 2 of my periods and I know that I’m not pregnant because I have never even had sex or kissed a guy. I am nervous about talking to my parents about this and you are my last hope, I also have stretch marks on my boobs and one is bigger than the other I was just wondering if this was all natural.

It is quite normal for your periods to be irregular when you are young. This is also dependant on when you first got your period and other factors, if you have had regular periods for the last couple of years and have now suddenly missed your last 2 then this could be due to stress or an imbalance in your hormones. It would be a good idea to visit your GP who may take a simple blood test to see whether or not your hormones are balanced. At 12 though, it may just be a case of your body falling into its own natural cycle.

With regards to your breasts, it is definitely normal for one to be bigger than the other – it may not appear that way but it is quite rare for 2 breasts to be the exact size and shape. It is also normal to have stretch marks and these often happen when you are going through puberty as you are growing at a fast rate. There are a number of creams on the market that can assist with diminishing or removing stretch marks which can be quite useful if these bother you. These creams are available at most chemists.
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I have noticed when I go to the toilet my piss smells and feels like it is burning. I am a virgin though; could I have caught something off the toilets at school? I heard that one of the girls I go to school with sleeps around and has diseases.

It sounds like you may have a urinary tract infection or cystitis; this is not sexually transmitted and it is a common infection that usually occurs when bacteria enter the opening of the urethra and multiply in the urinary tract. The bacterium is quite often from the anus which enters through the urethra then gets into the bladder which leads to inflammation and infection in the lower urinary tract. Anyone can develop a urinary tract infection but it is more common in women, children, the elderly and people with diabetes. It is a good idea to go to your GP to confirm this and who can also give you antibiotics to clear up the infection. You need to make sure that you drink plenty of water throughout the day and also make sure you practice good toilet hygiene and only wipe front to back. To prevent recurrence drinking cranberry juice daily is also quite useful. Sexually transmitted diseases are not caught from toilet seats.

I was wondering, do all women bleed during their first time? And if they don’t what are the reasons?

Not all women bleed during first time sex. This doesn’t mean that they are not virgins - it just means that they have already torn their hymen (a thin piece of skin that covers the opening of the vagina) during a different activity. The hymen could possibly have torn during activities such as gymnastics, riding a horse or a bike, or even inserting a tampon. During your first time of having sex, please do not be concerned by blood (or lack of).
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Hi I am just about to start using the pill, and I was told that smoking while on the pill can increase my chances of getting cardiovascular disease.

How likely is this? And is it ok if I only smoke about once a week? I've already been given the 'don't smoke' pep talk, I just want to know. Can you fill me in?

Several health risks go along specifically with smoking while on the birth control pill. What we do know is that women who smoke and take the oral contraceptive pill increase their risk of heart disease. This risk is heightened depending on how much you smoke, how old you are, and the level of oestrogen in the pill. So in regards to heart disease, you need to consider the number of cigarettes you smoke per day, how old you are, and also the type of pill you are taking. If you still want to keep smoking that is your choice but you may want to look into different methods of contraception such as using condoms which do not affect your hormone levels.

Can you get an STI if you go down on someone that has Thrush? I went down on my girlfriend and I think she might have thrush because now I have a sore throat. Please help…anon

Thrush isn’t sexually transmitted; the overgrowth of candida can happen as a result of antibiotics when your immunity is low, as a result of diabetes, or following sexual activity. The mouth and a woman's vagina is an environment where Candida (the yeast fungus that causes yeast infections) thrives. Candida albicans, the yeast fungus that causes yeast infections, grows best in mildly acidic environments. If you also have a white covering on your throat make an appointment with a GP today for further treatment. Make sure both you and your girlfriend receive treatment and are all clear before embarking on further sexual activity.
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I want to discuss something – my girlfriend and I had sex without using protection and that was in a standing position. Both of us really worried as this was our 1st time and we didn’t use protection. I think that I came outside her but then I’m not sure and I am worried some might have gone inside her. I want to ask that what are the chances of her getting pregnant? We had sex 10 days after her period finished and it’s already been 40 hours since – what can we do? Jimmy

Firstly, you need to go with your girlfriend to the chemist to obtain the morning after pill (emergency contraception). You can go to the chemist and ask the pharmacist and they should provide you with emergency contraception without a prescription. The morning after pill is still effective up to 72 hours after having unprotected (it can be taken up to 120 hours later but it is most effective if taken within the 72 hours). The sooner the morning after pill is taken the more effective it will be - so head to the chemist straight away. For more information on emergency contraception check out the emergency contraception page on our site where you can download the emergency contraception factsheet. After your girlfriend takes the morning after pill it is a good idea for you both to visit your nearest GP or sexual health centre and discuss contraceptives and for both of you to have a full STI check up. Condoms are the only protection that can protect you against both STI’s and pregnancy, however the ‘double dutch method’ of using both condoms and using contraception such as the pill or Implanon is the best protection

I first had my period when I was about 8 years old and since then I have always had it regularly. My question is now that I am 15 going to be 16 in a couple of weeks I started having my period twice a month is this normal? When I am on my period I feel like eating a lot but since I am on a diet I try not to eat that much because I feel like I am going to gain weight. - Brooke

It is possible to bleed twice in the one calendar month if a normal period begins on the first or second day of the month, and then another arrives at the very end; because the normal cycle length (from the first day of one to the first day of the next) ranges from 23 to 35 days, this can mean that two perfectly normal periods occur in the same calendar month.

If your periods are arriving less than 23 days apart (counted from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next), then you should see your GP. It is possible that there is abnormal thickening of the uterine lining which would need to be addressed and blood tests might be done to assess hormone levels. Most of the time the reason for frequent bleeding is benign, but occasionally the problem can be more serious; for this reason, and because excess bleeding can lead to anemia, too-frequent periods must be looked at further.

It is quite normal to want to eat more do to the hormone changes that take place whist you are menstruating however, you are still quite young and your body is developing so diets are not always the best option. Just make sure that you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle which includes eating plenty of fresh fruit and veges and limit the amount of processed foods/takeaway/fatty food; and also make sure you also exercise daily.
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I was thinking about losing my virginity, just wondering how much I will bleed and does it hurt heaps? The only reason I’m concerned is… I have been mucking around with my boyfriend recently and he has been fingering me and afterwards I bleed – at first I thought it was my hymen but it has happened 3 times now, is that normal? – Alison

Your hymen is a thin covering of tissue at the entrance of the vagina – however many girls can tear or stretch their hymen while participating in sports like bicycling, horseback riding, gymnastics, inserting tampons or while masturbating. Often girls may not even know this has occurred. This is due to the fact that there may be little or no blood or pain involved. Some girls have hymens that are elastic enough to permit a penis to enter without tearing. The bleeding that you have been experiencing through foreplay could be due to a tear in the vaginal wall, always make sure your boyfriend has clean hands and that you are aroused or use a lubricant. Just remember to make sure you are comfortable with your partner and also that you are definitely ready to be embarking on a sexual relationship before you decide to have sex

I just found your website and it’s great. But I’d like to know a little more about sex and sexual games before you go all the way. The other day the guy I like came to my house when my parents were working. He has a girlfriend but we started kissing on my bed. This led to fingering and a hand job. I didn’t know exactly what he was doing but he was wanking and trying to ejaculate and it wasn’t working - we were trying for like 10 minutes and yeah, I don’t really know what was going on. I don’t think he had a condom either. He wasn’t pressuring me or anything - like I felt the same but I am just confused. Please tell me what was going on and what I should do next time. Thanks heaps for your advice website it helps a lot. I’m 14 and I’m thinking about sex heaps these days - Katie

When you are comfortable with your partner it is easier to negotiate safe and fun sex. It is only natural for the first few times that you and your partner get naked that it will be an awkward experience – however the more you know someone and the closer you are the more you can laugh about any embarrassing moments and have fun with it. Sex is meant to be fun so make sure that next time you decide to be involved in a sexual experience that you are comfortable with it and are able to discuss this with your partner before, during and after if you need to. This will alleviate any awkward moments such as you not knowing what is going on. As you mentioned - the guy that you had this experience with already has a girlfriend. Do you think there is a mutual respect from him to you and vice versa? Learning about sex and sexual games takes time and patience you need to be comfortable with your body and your partner and learn about each others needs what you both enjoy - and remember that it is important to use protection at all times.
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How old do you have to be to get the Emergency contraception pill from the chemist? Are they allowed to ask how old you are? – Tran

There are no age restrictions when it comes to obtaining emergency contraception. The requirements that the pharmacist uses to dispense is whether or not he or she feels that you are competent in making the decision to obtain the morning after pill. It is available over the counter without a script and there is no legal obligation to collect name and age from you but some chemists do. The pharmacist has a list of questions that is recommended that they ask of you which you also may be asked to sign and the response will be stored by the pharmacy in accordance with the Health Records Act 2001. Included in this list they ask your date or year of birth. There are some pharmacists that may decide not to give you emergency contraception if you are under 16 and will refer you to a Doctor - but they don’t ask to see any photo ID. For more information on emergency contraception check out the emergency contraception page on our site where you can download the emergency contraception factsheet

My best friend is 18 years old and has just started having sex with her boyfriend. Her period is now a week late and she thinks that she is pregnant. She has taken at home pregnancy tests and they all say negative but she is still not convinced. She is a very stressful person which could even be the reason why her period is late. What should she do? PLEASE HELP ME HELP MY FRIEND! - Julie

If a home pregnancy test is coming up as negative then her best option would be to see a GP to get a blood test. The blood test will confirm whether or not she is pregnant by testing her hormone levels. A pregnancy blood test or a pregnancy serum test is a test that measures the exact amount of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), in the bloodstream of a woman to detect pregnancy. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that is produced by the placenta of a pregnant woman. It is detectable in the blood and urine within 10 days of fertilization. A blood test is considered to be more accurate than a urine test as a urine test can sometimes return a false negative which means even though a urine test comes back as negative your friend could possibly be pregnant.

Stress or high activity can also be attributed to amenorrhea (absence of menstruation). Many active or stressful females do not produce enough hormones to consistently regulate their periods. Also, this may be indicative of something more, slightly serious, such as something affecting your friends hormones which her GP can assess.
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I am 15 years old and have several questions about my penis which I would like answer’s to as soon as possible, as I have been worrying about them greatly. I have been trying to do my own research however all I have found is definitions.

a) To remain hygienic I am supposed to be able to pull back my foreskin in order to wash beneath it, correct? Well, my foreskin only stretches to about 3/4 of the way back on the glands. Is this normal?

b) There is a restricting bit of skin where the glands end, which attaches the foreskin to the penis, it is particularly thick and is just below the meatus. Is this normal?

c) The meatus of my penis is slightly elevated and red. In pictures I have seen it is hardly visible at all, and just appears as a small slit on the tip of the glands. Could this be due to an infection or just irritation?

d). How large in diameter is the meatus supposed to be. Mine is a slit which stretches about half a centimeter. Is this normal? - Jeremy

To remain hygienic you are supposed to be able to pull your foreskin back in order to wash beneath the skin. You should be able to slide your foreskin back and you may need to be seen by your doctor if you cannot retract it fully. Certain conditions, including infections under the foreskin, may result in scarring and cause the tissue of the foreskin to stick to the head of the penis.Phimosis is a condition where there is tightness of the foreskin. Sometimes circumcision is recommended

The piece of skin that attaches the foreskin to the penis is called the frenulum and at this point the foreskin is usually less mobile than the rest of it. The meatus is the opening of the urethra onto the glans of the penis and may vary in diameter, and half a centimeter would be within normal limits. It can be normal for some of the more delicate tissue inside the urethra to come a short way onto the glans giving a reddened appearance, but certainly irritation may increase this.

Remember, there are enormous differences in the normal appearances of men’s penises. If you have any concerns, your doctor could examine you to make sure that everything is normal.
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Hi I am 16 – my periods have been very irregular since they started 3 years ago. They only come about once every 4-6 months. I am also overweight and I have really bad acne, oily hair, and hair on my face. Can you please tell me how to fix this? - Maria

What you are experiencing could be due to normal hormonal changes that occur during puberty. Pimples are common for most teens. Acne is caused by glands in the skin that produce a natural oil called sebum. Puberty hormones make the glands produce extra sebum, which can clog the pores. The overactive sebum glands can also be attributed to your oily hair and during puberty everyone tends to put on a little bit of weight. There is also the possibility that you may have a hormone imbalance which means that your body is producing too much/not enough of certain hormones. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is quite common and often the symptoms are like that of which you have described. It would be a good idea for you to visit your GP to have a blood test which tests the levels of hormones in your system. Your GP may refer you to a gynecologist if they suspect you of having polycystic ovaries or an endocrinologist if your hormone levels are imbalanced. Treating the signs of polycystic ovarian syndrome may be as simple as being on a certain kind of the pill.

It is important for you to keep a healthy lifestyle and make sure that you are eating a good, healthy diet and also exercising which will in turn assist in having a healthy body.

I am 15 and a virgin, I have a boyfriend that I have been with for 1 year and lately he has been pressuring me to have oral sex (because I’m not ready yet to have full sex).I know heaps of people that have already done it; I’m just wondering if you have any advice about what I should do? I am a bit scared because I don’t know how – can you help? Cassie

Cassie, you need to consider a number of things regarding this question. Firstly, your boyfriend should not be pressuring you to do anything. Only you can decide if and when you are ready to be involved in any form of sexual activities.If you aren’t comfortable and ready, you need to tell your boyfriend and ask him to give you time and to ease off with the pressure.If he cares about you and respects you then this should not be an issue.

If you do decide that you are ready and comfortable with your partner then remember to always use a condom even during oral sex. If you have cuts, sores or ulcers in or around your mouth, it puts you at a greater risk of getting an STI and a condom will prevent this.
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Hi I first got my period when I was 9, I am now 14 – I am quite regular and get my period on time every month, the problem is I bleed quite heavily and always have excruciating cramps. Is this normal, will this ease up as I get older? Amber

Menstrual cramping can vary from a mild, aching feeling in your lower abdomen, to severe pain or spasms.They occur when a woman gets her period and last for approximately 2-3 days.As your menstrual cramps seem to be a problem for you, you may want to talk to your GP or health care provider about taking some over the counter medication for one to two days. These medications are ‘anti-prostaglandins’ and can relieve the discomfort, make your flow lighter and your uterus cramp less.

Other remedies for menstrual cramps include a hot water bottle or a warm bath to sooth the pain, some girls also find that exercise can be beneficial in relieving cramps.Also make sure that you eat a healthy diet, drink lots of fluids, and get plenty of rest during your period.

If none of the above remedies work for you then make sure you talk to your GP.The oral contraceptive pill is often prescribed for girls with severe cramps, nausea or vomiting.It works by preventing you from ovulating and by making your menstrual flow lighter.If you are taking oral contraceptives and you are still experiencing pain or bad cramps, then mention this to you GP.You could possibly have an infection or endometriosis which your doctor will need to address.

Me and my friends write graphic sex stories and we were writing them when we were at school, we didn’t know that we weren’t allowed to and a teacher found them and read them, we are scared that they will call our parents or we will get into trouble – we are all 15 turning 16 and haven’t had sex yet. We just do this as an expression of our creativity and so we don’t look up full on porn sites etc – can you help? What do we say if they take it further? Angela

What you and your friends are doing is quite normal. Expressing oneself through words, stories, or fantasies is a normal and healthy part of growing up. If your stories do not contain anything of concern that may potentially harm or offend someone then there is no need for your teachers to take the matter further. However, if there is anything potentially harmful, they may be obligated to inform someone for your own or others’ safety.Maybe you need to discuss with your teacher your intentions (no matter how embarrassing) and explain your actions so your teacher realizes that what you were doing was harmless and all a part of growing up.
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I recently went on the pill and I was wondering if certain foods or drinks make it less effective? What about illicit drugs? Is there anything else that can stop it from working? Sally

If taken correctly the contraceptive pill is around 99% effective. There are a number of medications including antibiotics and epilepsy medication that can make the contraceptive pill less effective. There are also some over the counter medicines that can impact on the effectiveness of the pill such as St Johns Wort. If you are currently on any medication it is a good idea to check with your Dr about how it will interact with the pill, with short term medications such as antibiotics you should still stay on the pill, but use extra precautions such as condoms for the entire time you are taking the antibiotics and for seven days afterwards. There isn’t much data yet to suggest that using illicit drugs will change the effectiveness of the pill, although it is a good idea to stay away from using illicit drugs for your own health. Some illicit drugs may cause diarrhoea or vomiting which can also impact on the pill’s effectiveness. When taking the pill remember to take it at the same time every night, if you are on certain medications or have had any vomiting or diarrhoea, or have missed 1 or more pills in a cycle - always use extra contraception.

I have recently had a falling out with my best friend. She has started hanging out with the popular group at school and now wont even talk to me. Every morning lately I have been vomiting and shaking before I go to school, am I having a nervous breakdown? Krystal

What you are experiencing might be stress, when there are changes to your normal routine or something that happens out of your control you may feel stress, over-stress can cause illness. Do you have other friends that you can talk to? You need to surround yourself with people who support, encourage and respect you. Your best friend might be undergoing some changes and may feel that you have grown apart. You might want to revaluate what she means to you, she might not be worth the effort and negative feelings that contribute to making you sick. There are a number of steps that you can take to deal with stress, such as positive self talk, relaxation techniques & exercise. Find something that you enjoy doing that relaxes you and make sure you incorporate it into your everyday routine. If your feelings are beginning to become too overwhelming for you to handle on your own, make sure you talk to someone – whether it is your parents, sibling or trusted friend/relative, and if need be you should also look at the option of professional or school counselling services.
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Last week me and my girlfriend were messing around. She was touching me and I came - and some accidentally got on her private parts, can she get pregnant? Jason

It is unlikely that your girlfriend will become pregnant as a result of the situation that you described. Although sperm can survive outside the body at the right temperature, seminal fluid dries very quickly when it's outside the body - and once it's dried, the sperm die almost at once. If you are concerned, it is a good idea that you both speak to a Doctor or family planning specialist who can talk to you about contraception as well as STI protection. If your girlfriend is concerned that she might be pregnant it is a good idea for her to discuss this with the Doctor or family planning specialist and take a pregnancy test to be sure.

Hi I'm 13 and I still have not got my Periods but every one has told me that I am very moody and my breasts are very sore is this a sign of when I'm going to get my Periods? Can you please help me? Jackie

Once you hit puberty you start to notice a few changes such as body odour & pubic hair. Periods usually happen anywhere between the ages of 9-16 (or two years after your breasts start growing). Mood swings and tender breasts can be a sign of premenstrual symptoms (PMS). Other signs of PMS and indicators that you might be getting your period include: cramps, pimples, headaches, cravings, tiredness, poor concentration and weight gain. All this is quite normal and the good news is that once you get your period, after a few days all these sypmtoms should start to clear up. No one knows exactly what causes PMS, but it is connected with the two main hormones that regulate your period – oestrogen and progesterone. If you are at all worried about when your period will arrive see your GP for reassurance.
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I am a single father and needing some advice. My daughter is nine nearly 10 years of age; she was really concerned this morning as she thought she had an infection in the private area, no burning or itchiness. I asked my daughter why she thought she had an infection, she said because she has a yellow discharge coming from her private area. Is she going through early puberty? Should I be concerned as I have only seen in all puberty info that the discharge is white. Can you please help me? I would be very grateful for any info. Rob

Rob it sounds like your daughter might be starting to go through puberty. What your daughter is experiencing may be normal vaginal secretions. It means that her body might be producing more oestrogen and getting ready for her first period. Normal vaginal secretions are a bit like mucous, and clear or whitish in colour - but dry to yellow on underwear, and has a distinct non-offensive smell. As there is no burning or itching present it is unlikely to be an infection, although if you are not sure and are still concerned that it may be an infection, it is a good idea to go to your GP for further advice.

I am 16 and I have a really big crush on a girl who lives thousands of miles away from me, who I will probably never meet again. I try to stop having these feelings, but I can’t stop thinking about her and she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve seen. What can I do? Tony

Tony it might be hard to deal with at the moment and you are probably sick of people telling you “you will meet somebody else” but it is true. If this is your first crush, it can be hard to get over, but time will definitely make things easier for you. As she lives thousands of miles away it sounds a bit unrealistic to have a ‘normal’ relationship with her, but if you have her email address or phone number there is no reason why you can’t be friends and chat online. If she doesn’t know that you like her and you do not have any way of contacting her then it is time to get a hobby, get involved in sports and get out and about. Eventually you may meet someone else who you have things in common with and although you may always think of your first crush in high regards, you will be to busy to notice that she is not a part of your life.
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I’m 15 and for the last few months I’ve been finding it really hard to just get through every day. I just feel like I’m going nowhere, while everyone else seems to know exactly what they want out of life. I cry a lot but I’m not always sure why. Am I just being pathetic or is there something wrong with me? Hannah

Hannah you’re not being pathetic, it is human nature for people to experience feelings of sadness. Considering you have been experiencing this for much longer than 2 weeks you need to talk to some one about it as you could be suffering from depression. Depression is a serious illness and it is still relatively misunderstood. It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and can be treated with a combination of counselling and medication. The important thing to remember is that you can beat it. You can approach your school counsellor or call Kids Help Line on 1800 551 800 and tell them how you are feeling, they understand what you are going through and will be able to help you.

My friend and I went to a party last night with a group of people we don’t normally hang out with. It was pretty crazy and my friend and I ended up smoking some pot for the first time. I didn’t like what it did to me, I was pretty out of it and ended up having unprotected sex with some guy I hardy even know. I’m so scared that I might be pregnant or have an STI but more than that I just feel really stupid. I know about the morning after pill but where do I get it and what happens to me? Grace

Marijuana isn’t a drug to be taken lightly, it can cause any number of dangerous effects on you. The fact that you were with people you don’t normally hang out with probably contributed to the pressure you felt to try pot. Always remember coming across confident enough to say no is far more impressive than giving in.

Try not to panic, there is help out there. The morning after pill is available from chemists over the counter, (you don’t need to see a Doctor or get a prescription) and you can take it up to 3 days after unprotected sex, but the sooner you take it the more effective it is. Most girls have no side effects although a few might experience some nausea for a short time after taking the pills, and very rarely girls vomit. If this happens seek medical advice straight away. Other later effects may be irregular bleeding or spotting, tender breasts, headaches, tummy pain, diarrhoea, feel dizzy or tired and your next period may be earlier or later than normal. If you experience any of these symptoms and are worried, or if they don’t go away after a few days talk to you doctor of pharmacist.

Remember, although the morning after pill is the best way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, it is not 100% effective. If your period is more than a week late you should have a pregnancy test.

Recent studies show that the morning after pill works just as well when both tablets are taken together. If taken separately – make sure it is no more than 12 hours between the tables.

You also need to be tested for STI’s, head to you local doctor or family planning clinic and get it checked out. Remember, the only way to safeguard against STI’s is to always use a condom.
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I’ve been with my boyfriend for nearly 6 months now and lately he has really been pressuring me to have sex with him. We’ve done pretty much everything else, but I’m just not ready. When I tell him he just tells me that I’m scared, and I shouldn’t be. I really like him but I don’t want to rush things. Am I just scared? If not how can I get him to back off? Sam

Firstly, good on you for standing your ground. Basically if he won’t wait, he’s not worth waiting for. Try explaining to him when you are alone that you really do like him but you don’t want to rush things. By being away from everyone else he should listen to you and understand. If he doesn’t than maybe it’s time to think about moving on. Sex is a big responsibility and if you aren’t ready to do it then no one has the right to force you.

I'm 15 and have been with sleeping with my boyfriend for about 5 months. A couple of months ago the condom we were using broke and now I've found out I'm pregnant. I'm scared and nervous and not sure what I want to do. What are my options and who should I talk to? Sarah

If you’re pregnant, you must talk to someone you trust as soon as possible - a doctor, a teacher or a family member. Anyone who cares for you might be shocked and angry at first, but then hopefully they’ll want to do their best to help you and give you support. If you don’t feel confident talking to someone you know, then contact a sexual health clinic (such as a Marie Stopes International centre) or family planning clinic who have trained, professional counsellors and won't judge you or force you to do anything you don’t want to.

When facing pregnancy, there are three basic options on what to do next. Some young girls decide to continue with the pregnancy and get support to carry on their education and bring up a baby. Others choose to have the baby, but may feel too young and unprepared to take on the huge responsibility of becoming a parent, so opt for adoption instead. Some choose to have the pregnancy terminated (an abortion).

If you choose to have an abortion it is important that you act as quickly as possible. Terminations carried out in the first three months of pregnancy are straightforward procedures that can be carried out under local anaesthetic with very little risk to your health.

Australian abortion law differs between states and territories (see www.lawstuff.org.au for info) and your doctor should be able to help you. If he or she won’t, you are entitled to be referred to one who will. It is important that you act as soon as possible.
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My best friend has been going out and getting drunk all the time. She doesn't have a boyfriend and pashes a different guy every week. The other night she got really drunk and picked up a guy. They ended up having sex and didn't use a condom. Will she get pregnant? Jen

She should take immediate action and get ‘emergency contraception' which can be taken up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex. It consists of two pills which, if taken correctly 12 hours apart, can prevent pregnancy. The sooner it is taken after having unprotected sex, the more effective it is.

Emergency contraception is available from your doctor (ask for an urgent appointment) or family planning clinic. You can also buy it over the counter at your chemist without a prescription (it costs about $20). Side effects are rare but may include nausea and vomiting, tender breasts or changes in your menstrual cycle.

Girls can only get pregnant at certain times of the month (usually around 14 days after the first day of their last period), but sperm can survive for several days in the girl’s body so it’s not worth taking any chances.

I’m really curious about oral sex. My mates talk about getting head jobs and going down on girls but I've never done it or had it done to me. What’s it like and is it normal? Carlos

There are lots of ways of expressing your sexual feelings from holding hands to having full sex. Some couples like oral sex, which involves using your mouth to stimulate the other person’s genitals.

Oral sex is quite normal and can give very intense pleasure, but only if both partners want to try it. If either of you feel uncomfortable at any stage, you should stop. It’s important that you wash beforehand and use your lips and tongue - NOT your teeth!

And remember, as it is possible to catch an STI (such as herpes) through oral sex, practice safer sex at all times by using a condom.
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My boyfriend and I have been together for 3 months. We've done everything but sex. Both of us feel ready to have sex, but we want to make sure we've got out contraception sorted out before we do it. I'm 16 and I don't know if I can go on the Pill without telling my mum. Can I? Michelle

Girls under 16 can see their doctor in total confidence and go on the Pill if the doctor thinks they are mature enough to make up their own mind. The contraceptive pill (the Pill) contains two hormones that prevent pregnancy. The mini-Pill has only one hormone - progesterone - and comes in a lower dose.

The Pill works by preventing ovulation and is 99% effective if taken properly. The mini-Pill works by causing the mucus in your cervix to becoming thick and difficult for sperm to get through. is 96% - 99% effective if taken properly.

Alternatives to the Pill include hormonal injections (Depo-Provera), which last for three months, or implanon (a tiny rod about the size of a matchstick that is inserted into your arm) which lasts about three years.

You also need to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, which can only be done by properly using a condom. Click here to see how to put on a condom. Using any of these methods as well as a condom will give you dual protection by making sure both you and your partner are protected against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Condoms can be bought from chemists, supermarkets or vending machines in some toilets. Teenagers can also go to a Marie Stopes International centre or a family planning clinic for a full range of free, confidential contraceptive services.

I don't have a boyfriend but I'm curious about sex. When can I legally have sex and when will I know I'm ready to do it? Ming

The age when you can legally have sex is different in each State or Territory in Australia. These laws also differ according to heterosexual or homosexual sex and whether you are male or female. The Lawstuff website (www.lawstuff.org.au) can help you to understand the laws where you live. Many teenagers however are already sexually active by the time they reach that age.

When thinking about having sex for the first time, the important thing is to take some time to think whether this really is the right choice for you at this particular time in your life.

Some teenagers rush to have sex to lose their virginity to ‘get it over with’ and sometimes regret it later. Others spend years waiting for the exactly the right partner to come along!

The best advice is never to be pressured into having sex, always say ‘no’ if you don’t feel ready and spend some time exploring all the other possibilities (kissing, touching, masturbating) before you go all the way. And always practise safer sex, using a condom to protect yourself against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
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I’m a 13 year old girl and I’ve got a crush on an older girl at school. She's popular and pretty and we hang out a fair bit. Does it mean I’m gay? Phong

It’s very normal as a teenager to have a crush on someone of the same sex, but it doesn’t mean you’re gay. Girls frequently have crushes on older mates, teachers or pop stars so don’t panic - it’s all part of growing up. When they hit puberty, some teenagers start to feel confused about their sexuality, which is tied up with the hormones surging through their bodies. On the other hand, some teenagers are very sure at an early stage that they are gay (attracted to people the same sex as themselves). Others may experiment with both boys and girls before working out their feelings. Go with the flow and, over time, how you feel will emerge. Only you will know what your sexual preferences are but it may take some time for you to work it all out and feel completely sure about it.

Being gay or bisexual (attracted to boys and girls) is not wrong or unnatural, but simply part of a whole range of sexual lifestyles that people find themselves drawn to. The important thing is that you are happy with yourself, comfortable with your sexuality and respectful of other peoples’ choices. If you want to talk to someone about being gay, contact the confidential gay and lesbian telephone helpline in your state or territory:

Australian Capital Territory (Canberra)
Gay Information and Counselling Service
Tel: (02) 6247 2726

New South Wales (Sydney)
Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW
Tel: FREE CALL 1 800 184 527 or (02) 8594 9596

Northern Territory (Darwin)
The Northern Territory does not currently have a Lesbian and Gay Telephone Counselling Service but the following service may be able to help you:
Gay & Bisexual Mens Line Telephone Service
Sunday, Monday and Tuesdays 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm.
Tel: FREE CALL 1800 181 888

Queensland (Brisbane)
Gay and Lesbian Welfare Association
Tel: FREE CALL 1800 184 527 or (07) 3252 2997

South Australia (Adelaide)
Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service of SA
Tel: FREE CALL 1800 182 233 or (08) 8362 3223

Tasmania (Hobart)
Working It Out
Tel: (03) 6222 7688

Victoria (Melbourne)
Gay and Lesbian Switchboard
Tel: FREE CALL 1800 184 527 or (03) 9827 8544

Western Australia (Perth)
Gay and Lesbian Community Services of Western Australia
Tel: FREE CALL 1800 184 527 or (08) 9420 7201

I'm 16 and can’t get a girlfriend and I’ve never even been on a date. I think I'm normal but is there something wrong with me? Dave

It can be really difficult getting a date - especially if you’re at a single sex school. Relationships often start as friendships, so put yourself in situations where you at least meet some girls and mix with them. Perhaps you could attend a local youth centre or join a club outside school that lets you do an activity you enjoy. That way, you can meet someone who shares your interests and you’ll both have some common ground to start from.

The next step would be to do the things you both enjoy together, giving yourselves time to get to know one another before you move the friendship up onto another level.

Traditionally, girls used to wait for guys to make the first move but these days equality rules, so be ready to say ‘yes’ if she asks first (usually via her best mate)! Scientific research shows people are attracted to each other by chemical smells, but girls usually say the biggest turn on is a good sense of humour. Most importantly, be yourself!

I’ve read about chlamydia and how you can get it from sex. I've had sex a couple of times with guys. How would I know if I’ve got it? Sian

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Australia, yet it is one of the most invisible aswell.

A chlamydia infection may go unnoticed in both guys and girls for some time. But if you do experience symptoms these may include (for girls) discharge, pain in the lower abdomen, painful sexual intercourse, bleeding after intercourse, pain on passing urine and urinating more frequently. For guys, symptoms can include groin pain, swelling or burning when urinating and/or a white or cloudy discharge from the penis.

If you are sexually active and are at all worried that you might have been exposed, it’s best to get yourself checked out just in case. Your local family planning clinic, Marie Stopes International centre or sexual health clinic will see you in total confidence, or get down to your doctor. A simple test will determine whether or not you are infected, and a short course of antibiotics will be prescribed to treat the condition. You should also confide in your partner and ask him to be tested and treated as well otherwise you risk becoming re-infected.

Unchecked and untreated chlamydia can lead to a number of problems, including infertility for guys and girls alike. So don't risk it - always practice safer sex and use a condom.

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I feel really self-conscious about the changes my body is going through. I've got a stack of pimples and am really not liking having my periods every month. My mood's are also up and down all the time. What can I do? Jasmine

We all hit puberty sooner or later and it can be a bit of roller coaster ride. The chemicals that kick into gear will affect your emotions and your body’s development. Physically there’s nothing you can do to stop it, so fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride!

You might find your friends are going through exactly the same issues, so it may help to talk to them. Older female friends and relatives can be very sympathetic about coping with periods, because they've been there and done that and will be able to reassure you that you’ll get through it. Teen magazines and websites can also give helpful tips.

But remember it doesn’t all happen overnight...the changes your body goes through take several years to complete. And for any guys out there...with experience you will learn to control those unexpected erections!

I'm a 15 year old guy and I masturbate probably every second night. I really enjoy it but I'm worried it isn't normal and could be dangerous. Is this true? Stefano

Masturbation is perfectly normal and it’s a great way of exploring your body and learning about your sexuality. Whatever suits you is normal. It's really common for guys and girls to masturbate a lot when they first discover it cause it feels good and it's safe.

Many teenagers will experiment in their bedrooms, often starting by rubbing their genitals with their hands to see what feels good. It won’t cause any health problems, but you might get a bit sore if you don’t use any lubrication such as KY jelly. Girls sometimes use different objects to rub against the clitoris or to put inside their vaginas.

For girls, follow this general rule so you don’t pick up infections - if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t put it in your vagina! Always make sure your hands are clean and, if using objects, use a condom to protect against the risk of infection.

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