TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY
You’re probably already in the early stages of puberty...
You’re probably already in the early stages of puberty, so there’s a good chance you’ve already started your period. If you haven’t, you can still prepare for it now by carrying a clean piece of fabric or a single-use sanitary pad with you wherever you go.
- As a Ni Nyampinga you should know that menstruating is a part of life. Getting your period is normal for teenage girls. It’s important to support each other and help each other through any challenging circumstances. If you see a girl getting her period unexpectedly, and she isn’t prepared, give her a spare sanitary pad if you have one. Note, if you use a reusable piece of fabric, it must be used by you and you alone –fabric can’t be shared, or you risk contracting infection.
- Take care of your body by taking a bath every day and wearing clean clothes. Remember to make sure your underwear is fully dry before putting it on. When you wash your intimate areas, use clean water only, with no soap, as soap can destroy the bacteria that fights illnesses in your body. If you’ve already started menstruating, make sure you change your fabric or pad every three to four hours. Remember to throw away your used sanitary pads in an appropriate place and, if you use reusable fabrics, wash them regularly with cold water and soap and dry them in the sun.
- Whether you have started your period or not, know that unprotected sex is risky – it can result in unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases. You shouldn’t ever feel pressured into doing something you don’t want to. Remember, if you do decide to have sex, there are ways to protect yourself during intercourse, for example by using a condom. If you have unprotected sex, you can take the morningafter pill for up to 72 hours to avoid pregnancy though this does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. There are other methods of birth control and protection available to you –talk about them with your doctor for more information.
- This information is not meant to suggest that you are necessarily ready to have sex–that’s a decision you have to make on your own. If someone tells you that sex cures certain diseases or conditions, know they aren’t telling the truth. Having sex for the first time is a choice that should only come with self-reflection and serious contemplation. It’s a big decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. When you decide you are ready, remember to think about ways you can protect yourself from potentially severe consequences like HIV/AIDS or an unwanted pregnancy. Remember, it’s your choice, don’t let anyone make it for you!