Teen Health and Wellness
Growing up isn’t easy. In addition to managing school, extracurricular activities and friendships, teens and younger adolescents are facing new challenges related to puberty, romantic relationships and body image that can impact their overall health. Your child’s family medicine provider can help address these unique health and wellness needs and serve as an informed guide throughout the transition into adulthood.
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In a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 30% of high school students reported having engaged in sexual intercourse in the previous three months before taking the survey. Among those students, nearly half said they didn’t use a condom, and 19% said they had used alcohol or drugs beforehand.
While you can’t control every action your adolescent or teen takes, you can help minimize his or her risks with access to the appropriate health and wellness resources. One of these resources is your child’s annual checkup with a family medicine provider or obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN). (Annual well-woman visits are recommended for teenage girls starting between ages 13 and 15).
In addition to providing basic health services, such as routine vaccinations and blood pressure screenings, these appointments cover a variety of preventive and diagnostic care needs your child may feel uncomfortable discussing with you, including:
- Birth control (including the use of condoms)
- Gynecological issues
- Puberty and sexual development
- Sexually transmitted infection prevention and testing
Your child’s family medicine provider will also be responsible for administering the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. HPV is an extremely common sexually transmitted virus that affects nearly everyone who hasn’t been vaccinated against it at some point in their lives. While most HPV infections go away on their own within two years, some can stick around and cause bigger problems, such as cancer or genital warts.
The HPV vaccine, which is administered in two doses, can help protect your child against some of the harmful strains most commonly associated with cervical cancer and genital warts. The first dose is recommended for all boys and girls between ages 11 and 12. The second and final dose is administered six to 12 months later.
Obesity at any age is associated with an increased risk for a variety of health issues, including diabetes, problems sleeping or breathing, joint pain, and high blood pressure. However, the effects of obesity often go beyond the physical. Many adolescents and teens struggling with obesity also suffer from psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
If your adolescent or teen is struggling with weight loss, consider talking to a provider about scheduling an Altru’s Healthy and Fit Kids and Families consultation. This program is designed to help school-age children lose and maintain weight for good by providing coaching and support, education on healthy eating, and physical activity principles.
Are skin issues affecting your adolescent’s or teen’s self-esteem? Truyu, part of Altru Health System, can help your child feel and look his or her best through its extensive line of dermatology services, including treatment for the following conditions:
- Cold sores
- Excess sweating
- Fungal infections
- Molluscum contagiosum
Truyu’s dermatology services are available to adolescents and teens with the permission of a parent or guardian.
Log in to MyChart or call 701.780.2587 to schedule an appointment with a family medicine provider.