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adolescent

Ready for arguments about increasing your access to Plan B? We can help.

You may have heard that the FDA may finally remove age restrictions for the morning-after emergency contraception pill in the United States. If you've heard that, you may have started to hear some panic or fear-factoring, not just gratitude and relief.

Currently, in the United States, someone must be over the age of 17 in order to get Plan B at a pharmacy without a prescription. Until two years ago, the age limit was 18. It's still kept behind the pharmacy counter for people of all ages, but those over 17 do not need a prescription from a doctor or a clinic to purchase it.

For a long time now, organizations like ours and many, many other reproductive choice, justice and health organizations, have been lobbying to remove that age restriction, something other nations -- like Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Israel and others -- do not apply; a restriction which has never been supported by sound health data. The restriction per age has long been about politics, not health.

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Scarleteen By The Numbers: What's Gotten Better? What Has Not?

I want to focus this entry on the second of the optional questions in the demographics survey. Of the 2,000 participants who completed the survey, this question was answered by 1,530. The question was this: Since using Scarleteen, which of any of the following has changed for you, and by how much?

We saw a couple comments at the end of the survey, from statistics-focused folks, concerned that our aim was to state that whatever improvements users reported were solely because of Scarleteen. That was never the intent.

The intent in asking this questions was primarily to get a picture of what, if any, improvements relevant to what we address here our users were experiencing which may have been due to using our services or may not have been. What we most wanted to see was not the areas where we may have done a good job or where our users already felt things were going very well for them, but areas where it would seem sound to say we currently are not having the impact we'd like to with po

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What Is Healthy Sexual Development?

Depending on your view, the answer to that question might seem really obvious or very tricky and hazy.

This is a subject that's talked about all the time, however, when it is, there's often little to no clear definition about what healthy sexual development is. Many easy assumptions get made, and ideas about what's healthy for all people are often based in or around personal agendas, ideas and personal experiences of sexuality, rather than being based in broader viewpoints, truly informed and comprehensive ideas about all that human sexuality and development involves and real awareness of possible personal or cultural bias.

We think this question is very, very tricky and that the answers aren't at all obvious or easy: sexuality is incredibly complex, especially given its incredible diversity, not just among a global population, but even within any one person's lifetime. Our cultures also are often sexually unhealthy in many ways, and so ideas about healthy sexual development, deeply i

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The Scarleteen Do-It

Feeling low about your body and how it looks? Thinking about, or already doing, some drastic things to try and change it? You're not alone. But you can get to a better place with your body and how you feel about it without doing anything that keeps you feeling just as bad, or puts your physical or mental health at risk. Here's some ways to ditch the die(t)s and go for the happy, healthy do's.

That Guy

Anyone who knows me or who knows anything about me usually knows that my pre-teen and teen years were incredibly difficult. I dealt with neglect and abuse in my family, starting from about the time I was 10. I was sexually assaulted twice before I even became a teenager. I was queer. I was suicidal and was a self-injurer. I struggled to find safe shelter sometimes. Few people seemed to notice, even though after I gave up trying to use my words, I still used my eyes to try and tell them constantly. The one adult I could count on over time to be unilaterally supportive of me had (still has) serious mental illness. I had to take more adult responsibility at the end of my teen years than anyone else I knew. Like many adolescents, I constantly heard directly or got indirect messages from adults who talked about how awful teenagers were, how awful I was, how difficult, how impossible, how loathesome. Four days after my sixteenth birthday, the first real-deal big-love-me-lover I had, who tre

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Normative Sexual Development and Your Child

This is a guest entry from Dr. Ruth Neustifter -- who we know here at Scarleteen as Dr. Ruthie -- for the month-long blog carnival to help Support Scarleteen. Can we get your support?

I remember it very clearly. I was a senior in high school and we were all noshing together in the lunch room when Darla, who was two years my junior, blurted out that she had seen her boyfriend naked and that they were planning to have sex soon. It would be her first time, although we thought he probably had more experience. ”I sure hope it gets smaller before it goes in, because my hole isn’t that big!” she declared and we all laughed together.

The thing is, she didn’t know whether it would or not, and none of us were willing (or able) to give her much information. Within weeks she recruited another friend to purchase a pregnancy test with her, but I don’t believe any of us considered STI tests.

Back then, I was a youth leader of our church youth group’s True Love Waits effort, a national program

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A Birth Control Pill Five by Five

Sensei Martini asks:

I want to begin taking the birth control pill for the first time. Is it possible for me to start taking my first birth control pill on the SECOND day of my period? I won't be having unprotected sex. But if I start taking the birth control pill on the 2nd day is it less affective? And also after taking the birth control pill for a series of time, when is it 95% affective? It obviously doesn't begin on the first day I start right?

A Very Important Note on Menstrual Suppression

As you may know, at Scarleteen we do not yet endorse suppressing menstruation/continuous birth control -- using a hormonal method of birth control in order to skip withdrawal bleeds/periods -- for women under 18, because there still is yet to be any study done or published with adolescent women to evaluate if it is safe or medically sound for those in that stage of physical development.

There is yet no available data concerning the long term effects of menstrual suppression on a woman's overall health, at any age. I should also mention that no studies have been published yet about the safety or efficacy of suppressing periods with the patch or vaginal ring.

However, there have been published and reviewed studies for women over 18 using oral contraceptives for suppression. Even though sample sizes have been relatively small (and to my understanding, without control groups of women not using BCPs), and they have been short-term studies, they have provided enough information to make cle

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'American Youth' Photo Book

A new photo book entitled 'American Youth' was recently released. This glossy, 240-page photographic document features snapshots and extended photo essays on young people from all across the United States, from all walks of life: races and ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and more. The subjects' commonality is their age (those who come of age this decade a.k.a. people born between 1982-1991) and their country of residence.

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In which we're reminded, again, that abstinence pledges don't work.

From PEDIATRICS Vol. 123 No. 1 January 2009, pp. e110-e120 (doi:10.1542/peds.2008-0407): Patient Teenagers? A Comparison of the Sexual Behavior of Virginity Pledgers and Matched Nonpledgers, Janet Elise Rosenbaum, PhD, AM; Health Policy PhD Program, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

The subjects for this study were National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health respondents, a nationally representative sample of middle and high school students who, when surveyed in 1995, had never had sex or taken a virginity pledge and who were >15 years of age (n = 3440). Adolescents who reported taking a virginity pledge on the 1996 survey (n = 289) were matched with nonpledgers (n = 645) by using exact and nearest-neighbor matching within propensity score calipers on factors including prepledge religiosity and attitudes toward sex a

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