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Health & Body
Chances are, your body's going through major changes these days. If you're not sure what's going on, or have specific questions about your health, our advice team is here to help.
Advice Topics:

Advice Questions about Health & Body:

  • GOI know this sounds weird, but I don't want to grow up. BO, bras, body hair, periods, they are all bugging me so much. I hate to admit I actually need deodorant, bras are a pain, and I have to carry supplies with me all the time because I have no idea when I'm going to get my next period. Why is everyone so eager about developing?

  • GOI wear a sports bra, the kind with no 'spaghetti straps'. I feel that I need more bras, and maybe a few more 'womanly' bras. I don't want to talk to my mom about it, but it doesn't seem that she's going to buy me any more anytime soon. What should I do?

  • GOI always want to wear my bra, but I get worried about what my parents or relatives will think when they feel my strap when they hug me. What should I do?

  • GOI have a major self-conscious problem (darn you, puberty!), and here's one reason why I'm so self-conscious: I have vitiligo. That's a skin condition; it's basically when your skin loses its pigment (color). I have it all over my elbows, knuckles, forearms, knees, and ankles. It's kind of embarrassing, and that's why I don't like to wear short sleeves or skirts or shorts in public. People keep asking me: ‘What's up with the stuff on your arm?’ or ‘What's the white stuff?’ It's hard to not be bothered by these questions and to just be proud of who I am and that my condition isn't worse than it could be. What can I do to be able to say the next time someone asks me a question: ‘It's called vitiligo, and I'm proud of it!’? Help!!

  • GOOkay, I'm REALLY uncomfortable about talking about this. But I need your help. I'm 12, and I'm hitting puberty. But the thing is, I've had pubic hair since I was 11. I am a little nervous about going to gym class because I have to change my shorts and everything, and sometimes the hair is, well, noticeable. I want to find a way to get rid of it, and I'm pretty sure there's a few ways to make that happen. But here's the problem: How do I confront my parents about this? I mean, I'm having a hard time writing about this, so how can I TALK about it? HELP!!!

  • GOI would really like a bra but my mom said I don't need one. I'm 10 and all my friends have them. Please help me!

  • GOOkay, I've hit puberty, had "The Talk" and everything, but there is still one problem. I'm now confronting my first case of BO. Yeah, I know I'm ready to start using deodorant, but I can't figure out how to consult my dad about it without the situation being too awkward! I've been trying to think of something for months! Please help me! I get embarrassed about these things easily, even though everybody goes through it and all that. I need a good approach!

  • GOI really wanna ask my mom when she started her period, so I know when to estimate that I will start mine. I don't know how to start the conversation, and I want it to be when we are alone together...which is never. Any tips?

  • GOI just smoked a cigarette for the first time tonight. I am so disappointed in myself! I need to know whether I should tell my mom or not. I mean I know I'll never do it again. It was disgusting! But what happens if I get really sick or start having problems b/c my body craves the cigarettes? I really need help.

  • GOI am very self-conscious about my body. After 5 open-heart surgeries, I have a scar down the middle of my chest, and I hate to show it. There are so many cute low-cut tops that my friends wear that I can't. Swimsuit season is coming up and it's really hard for me to be comfortable in mine, because I know people are looking if it shows. I keep telling myself that I will never be able to wear a bikini. Or what if I find a guy that I like, we go out, then he sees the scar, and gets grossed out? Please, I would like some help, and please don't tell me to be proud and show it off, cuz it doesn't work, trust me, I've tried many times to tell that to myself and when I do, people laugh and make fun of me.

  • GOI am 10 years old and I am not even going through puberty! Am I too old...too young? HELP ME!

  • GOI am ten years old and I'm going through puberty. My problem is that I don't have my period yet, but all my friends have theirs. Am I too young? Help me.

  • GOIm not sure whether I should pierce my ears or not. On one hand I get to wear cute earrings that I really want to wear. On the other hand, I am afraid that it would hurt. I am also afraid that if I get my ears pierced, the person would pierce my ears badly (not the part where the piercing should be), I might get an ear infection, or I might get an allergic reaction to the earring (my mom is allergic to it). Will you tell me what you would do if you were me?

  • GOI have a real problem when it comes to my body! First of all, I have a pretty big bust for my age. But this is the worst problem: I had my period. I am really embarrassed when I can't go swimming with my friends or go to pool parties when I get it. Please help me! It's hard to cope with it!

  • GOI have a big fear that my first period will come at a real bad time. I don't want to go say to a teacher, 'IT happened,' and I don't want it to happen in the shower. Are these fears okay? What can I do to prevent those kinds of things from happening?

  • GOI want to talk about periods with my math teacher. What should I say? Or should I ask one of the female gym teachers?

  • GOI'm the thinnest and most petite girl in my class. My clothes are size 10 in kids and my shoes are size 3 in girls. I also weigh only about 70 pounds, which is underweight for my age by 10 pounds! I can't shop at the stores a lot of girls my age shop at. I feel so small! Why aren't I growing like the others?

  • GO"I'm only 10 and dealing with acne. Sometimes people just stare. What should I do?"

  • GO"I just got my period. I get really frustrated and I don't want to be. Plus, I don't know how to tell my mom! Help."

  • GO"I am always having trouble sleeping. I don't fall asleep 'till 1 or 2 in the morning, then I have to wake up to get ready for school at 6. My mom won't let me take anything to help me sleep. What can I do to sleep better?"

  • GO"My grandma smokes and my family comes by a lot to visit. When we come over, she's always smoking. I always go to another room where I can't smell the smoke. I'm worried about my baby brother or someone else getting sick from secondhand smoke. What should I do?"

Dear IML,
I'm only 10 and dealing with acne. Sometimes people just stare. What should I do?
--Alina, 10

An expert responds:
From Paul Horowitz, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Thank you for your question. Even though you're 10, your body is probably starting to change from a child into an adult. This is sort of like changing from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Your skin is one of those parts of your body that changes during this important time in your life, and it might be having trouble with these changes. You may feel like you're the only one your age with this problem, but almost everyone gets acne as their body changesit's just happening to you a bit earlier than others.

There are lots of things you should and shouldn't do about your acne to clear it up and reduce the chance of permanent scars. First, talk to your pediatrician about what should be done for your type of skin and the type of acne you have. Try not to pop or squeeze the acne, and remember to wear your sunscreen. A caterpillar gets to hide in a cocoon while it's changing; unfortunately, you can't do this! The first thing to remember, even though it can be difficult, is that your acne will eventually go away. When people stare at you, why not smile at them? Smiling at them can be your way of letting them know that you feel good about yourself. That's what's most important.

The IML Mentors respond:

Dear Alina,
I know what it's like to be the first girl in the group to go through something embarrassing. I was the first one to develop breasts and get my period. It definitely stinks to get acne when you're only ten, but I promise that you won't be the only one with bad skin forever. It's something EVERY teenager goes through eventually. Actually, think of yourself as lucky: the sooner it starts, the sooner it will be over! Ask a parent if you can see a dermatologist (a skin doctor), who can prescribe acne medicine or a daily face wash. If you'd rather not see a dermatologist, you or your parent can also ask your pediatrician to recommend a non-prescription face wash. I know it must be really hard to feel like people are staring at you, but it will stop with time. Good Luck!
--Jenna, IML Mentor

Dear Alina,
You're beginning to go through one of the most dreaded parts of becoming a teenager. Just remember that you have very little control of what goes on in your body. It won't last forever, and if you think about it, there are many worse things to deal with in life. Ask a parent to take you to the doctor for help, and don't forget that lots of other people have the same problem that you do.
--Johanne, IML Mentor


Dear IML,
I just got my period. I get really frustrated and I don't want to be. Plus, I don't know how to tell my mom! Help
--Halli, 11

An expert responds:
From Anshu Batra, MD

Dear Halli,
Congratulations! This is something to be happy about, because it means you're growing up. It's natural to feel frustrated about your period, which is also known as "menstruation," because of all the hormones running through your body. Hormones are chemicals that are released by the brain and other organs. When you hit puberty, they cause rapid changes in your body size, shape, and structureand they can affect your emotional reactions to things! Also, if you're not totally sure about what is happening -- for instance, if menstruation hasn't been explained to you by an adult -- that can also be frustrating.

If you feel that you don't have enough information about what's happening to your body, there are lots of great books you can find at the library. Your school nurse or counselor can also help.

It's very important that you tell your mother, no matter how difficult it may seem. She will be able to answer questions for you and give you all sorts of advice. Remember, she gets her period, too! The normal symptoms of menstruation include: cramping, breast tenderness and fullness, headaches, feeling bloated, feeling tired and/or cranky, getting mood swings, and increased appetite. If you're getting one or more of these symptoms very severely, and it's keeping you from normal activities like school and sports, you should see your doctor for helpand that's another reason why your mother should know about your period.

I hope this makes you feel a little better about the changes you're going through!

The IML Mentors respond:

I was also eleven when I got my period, one of the first girls in my class. Sometimes I would get jealous thinking that most girls were not going to get their period for a long time, but I'm happy that I got mine when I did because I got to help my friends out when they got theirs. Halli, many girls have different side effects from their periods. I get cramps, my other friends get pimples, and some friends, like you, get quite frustrated. The best thing to do in dealing with your period is to just breathe and relax. (I also like to eat chocolate!) I hope everything works out!
--Danielle, IML Mentor

All of the fears and confusion you feel are completely normal. I know it may be awkward to tell your mom, but she is a woman, and has gone through the same thing that you have gone through. My mom just hugged me and it made me feel so much better. I was very scared, but I also thought it was very exciting. I felt so much older and mature. It was hard to get used to at first, but once I did, it wasn't a big deal anymore.
--Lindsey, IML Mentor

Dear Halli,
I also was frustrated when I got my period last year. I'm pretty lucky to have an older sister, because she gave me a lot of info before I started getting periods and she was the first one I told. She also helped me tell my mom about it. If you don't have an older sister, try to remember that when your mom was your age, she experienced the exact same thingmaybe she even worried about telling your grandma about it! Consider telling her straight out when you sit down and talk. Or, you could tell her indirectly by asking her to buy some sanitary napkins. Having periods means that you've reached a new stage in your life so just be bold and don't be afraid to tell your mom about it. Maybe she'll feel happy that her little girl has grown up!
--Joyce, IML Mentor


Dear IML,
I am always having trouble sleeping. I don't fall asleep 'till 1 or 2 in the morning, then I have to wake up to get ready for school at 6. My mom won't let me take anything to help me sleep. What can I do to sleep better?
--Rachel, 11

An expert responds:
From Paul Horowitz, MD, FAAP

Hi there Rachel,
It's really common to have trouble getting to sleep. It sounds like the pressure to get up early in the morning is really bothering you, too. There are some things that might make getting to sleep easier, but taking medicine, herbs, or other things isn't the way to go. These can lead to problems of their own, and good sleep habits are important to learn now, because they'll probably stay with you for a long time. If you don't get the sleep you need, it's likely that you'll seem grouchy and get frustrated more easily, and school will get harder.

Here's my advice: Try to develop the same routine before going to sleep every night. It might mean writing in a journal, stretching, showering, or reading a book. It should be some activity that's calming (no scary books or action-packed television shows/video games). After a few days of this, your body will get used to the idea that the stretching or reading, or whatever you're doing, means it's time to get ready to sleep. If you're worried, stressed, or sad about something, it's normal to have trouble sleeping. If this is the case with you, please be sure to contact a trusted adult like your parents, a teacher, your pediatrician, or a school counselor.

The IML Mentors respond:

Dear Rachel,
I used to have the same exact problem, and once in a while I still do. Last year for about three weeks straight, I couldn't fall asleep until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. Like you, my parents wouldn't let me take anything to help. They were right, because you can build a dependency on pills and eventually, you might build up a tolerance to them and nothing will work. I talked to a doctor about my sleeping problem, and I was given some helpful tips to get better sleep. First of all, don't eat a lot an hour or so before you sleep, especially sweets or sodas. Also, try not to watch a lot of TV right before you sleep. Instead, try to read a book, even if it's boring for you (actually, that will make you even more tired!). Another thing that helps me is to have a fan or some other light, constant noise going on that blocks out all other sounds. I hope these little tips help!
--Jordan, IML Mentor

Dear Rachel,
You sound so much like me! I'm always having trouble sleeping and once, I didn't fall asleep 'til 5 in the morning, just an hour before I had to wake up to get ready for school! Sometimes I wonder if I've been thinking too much, worrying about school, stuff like that. You're supposed to really relax in order to sleep well, so it's important to find something that calms yourself down an hour or so before you go to bed. Also, try to go to bed as soon as you feel sleepy. Sometimes that "sleepy time" passes and you can no longer fall asleep.
--Joyce, IML Mentor

I completely understand how hard it is to fall asleep. I think just about every one goes through this. Exercise is a great way to make yourself tired. If you schedule 30 to 40 minutes of some intense exercise, at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, it will not only get you in shape, but also work out any excess energy that would normally keep you up. Exercise also helps clear your mind and makes homework easier. If this doesn't work, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor.
--Mikey, IML Mentor


Dear IML,
My grandma smokes and my family comes by a lot to visit. When we come, she's always smoking. I always go to another room where I can't smell the smoke. I'm worried about my baby brother or someone else getting sick from secondhand smoke. What should I do?
--Kelly, 11

An expert responds:
From Melissa Havard, Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control

Hi Kelly, Thank you so much for writing. Obviously, you're very mature to understand that secondhand smoke can cause people to get sick. First, if possible, try to talk with either your mom or dad. Tell them that you love your grandma very much, and although you don't want to tell her what to do or be disrespectful, her smoking in the house makes you worried, especially for your baby brother. Hopefully, one of your parents can take her aside and politely ask her not to smoke in the house when you're visiting. Another option is to sit down with your grandma and tell her you love her, and that you're concerned about her smoking. More importantly, tell her you don't want your baby brother to get sick and that her secondhand smoke will cause health problems in your family. I'm sure she's not even aware that her habit is bothering you. If you want extra information, visit the Tobacco Information and Prevention Source, where you can print out fact sheets on smoking. Best of luck!

Check out IML's section on Smoking: Health Hazards for more details on how secondhand smoke causes problems.

The IML Mentors respond:

Dear Kelly,
I know exactly how you feel. My aunt was a smoker for a long time and I couldn't stand being around her or smelling the traces of cigarettes on her breath. I loved her very much, but I hated having to breathe in smoke to be with her. The one thing that I did after a while was go to my parents about my feelings. They understood completely, and told me that they would say something to her about it. My parents told her that I loved her very much and that I was worried about her health, and the rest of the family as well. My aunt gradually kicked her addiction to smoking using chewing gum, and eventually quit altogether! It made everyone much happier and more pleasant when we were together.
--Jordan, IML Mentor


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