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Q&As




GROWING UP
1. What are the changes a girl's body will undergo during puberty?
2. What is a menstrual cycle?
3. Why does one's period sometimes come late or skip a month?
4. Does a girl menstruate all her life?
5. Why is there sometimes discomfort during a girl's period?
6. What should a girl do during her period?
7. Is there anything a girl should not do during menstruation?
8. What are the changes a boy's body will undergo during puberty?
9. What is a wet dream and what causes it?
10. What is masturbation?
11. Do girls masturbate?
12. What is the appropriate number of times for masturbating?
13. Is masturbation harmful?
14. Will masturbation have an effect on sexual intercourse in marriage in later life?
15. Is it okay not to masturbate?
16. What about moods during growing up?
17. How does pregnancy occur?
18. What are the signs of pregnancy?
19. Can a girl get pregnant if she has sexual intercourse for the first time?
20. Can a girl get pregnant if the male ejaculates in the area around the vaginal opening?
21. How can pregnancy be prevented?
22. What are the risks involved in teenage pregnancy?
23. What is abortion?
24. What is a virgin?
25. As boys and girls are growing up, why can they suddenly be interested in the opposite sex?
26. What is HIV?
27. What is AIDS?
28. How quickly do people infected with HIV develop AIDS?
29. How many people are affected by HIV/AIDS?
30. How is HIV transmitted?
31. How is HIV not transmitted?
32. Do mosquitoes or other insects spread HIV?
33. Can you tell whether someone has HIV or AIDS?
34. How can I know whether I'm HIV-infected?
35. Should I get tested?
36. How can I get tested?
37. What is the Window Period?
38. Where can I get tested?
39. How can I reduce my risk of becoming infected with HIV through Sexual Contact?
40. How can I avoid acquiring HIV from a Contaminated Syringe?
41. Is there a link between HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)?
42. Are there other ways to avoid getting HIV through sex?
43. Are some people at greater risk of HIV infection than others?
44. Are women especially vulnerable to HIV?
45. Are young people at significant risk of HIV infection?
46. Are there treatments for HIV/AIDS?
47. Is there a cure for HIV/AIDS?
48. Is there a vaccine to prevent HIV infection?
49. How can one identify a person with HIV?
50. Where can I get more information about HIV and AIDS?


1. What are the changes a girl's body will undergo during puberty?
When a girl enters into the period of adolescence, she experiences bodily changes externally and internally. The changes take place when the endocrine glands release hormones. These changes usually happen between the ages 9 to 16 years.

The external changes are: -
  • Height increases.
  • Breasts develop.
  • Hair starts to grow under the arms.
  • Hips widen.
  • Appearance of pimples and acne.
Inside her body the reproductive organs are also changing. There are 400 to 600 eggs inside the ovaries. At the onset of puberty, one egg will mature each month and enter the fallopian tube and travel to the uterus. This is called ovulation.

In the uterus, a thick lining of blood builds up. This lining provides a suitable environment in which a fertilized egg can become embedded and grow into a baby. If there is no fertilization, the lining will not be needed and will be discarded. The flow of blood which happens every month is called menstruation, or commonly called 'period'.
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2. What is a menstrual cycle?
A menstrual cycle begins from the first day of menstruation to the day before the next menstruation. A normal cycle is usually 28 days. The cycle could also last for 20 days or 35 days. This varies from person to person. Ovulation tends to occur 14 days before the next menstrual blood flow. This is mid-way of the menstrual cycle. If you mark down the dates of your menstruation, you will know the length of your menstrual cycle after a period of time. It is also a good idea to keep a record of these cycles as you will know when your next period is due and be prepared with sanitary pads or tampons.
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3. Why does one's period sometimes come late or skip a month?
One's emotional state or a change in one's routine may affect the menstrual cycle. The menstrual period comes regularly when one's body adjust to its cycle. It is advisable to see a doctor if one's period continues to be irregular two years after onset.
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4. Does a girl menstruate all her life?
No, she will menstruate till she is in her late-40s or 50s. After that her period stops. This is called menopause. It marks the end of a woman's reproductive years.
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5. Why is there sometimes discomfort during a girl's period?
Sometimes, she may experience stomach cramps or backaches at the time of her period. This is probably due to the contraction or tightening of the muscles of the uterus to expel the menses. Proper rest and light exercise may help, but if the pain is very bad she should see a doctor.

She may feel bloated or puffy just before her period is due. This is normal but can be uncomfortable. It happens because the female hormones which are present at this stage of the menstrual cycle have the effect of keeping more water in the body than usual.

You may feel irritable and easily upset at this time too. Again this is due to the hormone changes which bring about menstruation which is nothing to be worried about.

All these problems may be more severe at times of stress such as when you are worried about your exams or when you are excited before an event you have looked forward to very much.
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6. What should a girl do during her period?
She needs to wear sanitary pads to absorb the release of blood and watery tissue. Sanitary pads should be changed every three or four hours. Continue as usual to take care of herself by eating well, exercising and getting enough rest.

Because in the growing – up years the sweat glands are very active, she should bathe and wash her hair during her period as she would at any other time.

Regular exercise and lots of fresh air improve our general health so she should go about keeping herself fit as usual. Eating properly is especially important in the growing years so this too is necessary during a period.

Of course it is always necessary to have enough rest during a period just as it is at any other time. It is a good idea if she can get into the habit of marking on a calendar the date her period begins and the number of days it lasts. This is important because it helps her to know her own pattern and when to be prepared for a period.

Remember that menstruation is not an illness but a sign that her body is functioning as it should. Unless there is a medical reason not to, she could do almost anything she normally would.
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7. Is there anything a girl should not do during menstruation?
A girl can continue her normal activities during menstruation. Exercise is a benefit as it helps to ease the tension and pain during menstruation. It is important to continue eating a healthy balanced diet during menstruation. There is no known food that helps to ease or worsen menstrual cramps and pains.

All these changes that occur are perfectly a normal part of growing up. It is important to be aware of these changes, and be prepared for them.
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8. What are the changes a boy's body will undergo during puberty?
The body undergoes both external and internal changes when a boy reaches adolescence. The age at which these changes make themselves apparent vary from boy to boy – the average age is at about 15 years. These changes are triggered off when the endocrine glands release hormones. The external changes a boy undergoes are:-
  • Height increases sudde
  • Moustache and beard starts to grow
  • Voice gets deeper
  • Shoulder and chest gets broader
  • Hair starts to grow under the arms
  • Pubic hair starts to grow
  • Penis and testes get bigger
  • Appearance of pimples and acne
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9. What is a wet dream and what causes it?
A wet dream means that a boy ejaculates sperm during his sleep. It occurs when the body has an abundant store of sperm which is released unconsciously during sleep. Sometimes a wet dream occurs when the individual is stimulated sexually in the day time and subsequently dreams about sex at night.

Boys experiencing this for the first are often ashamed or anxious because they think that something is not normal. Wet dreams are a perfectly normal part of growing up.
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10. What is masturbation?
Masturbation is self-stimulation of the genitals for sexual pleasure. It involves gentle rubbing of the sexual organs by hands or other devices. It is a common practice particularly during the period of adolescence.
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11. Do girls masturbate?

Yes. However, research indicates that more boys than girls masturbate. Boys also masturbate more often.

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12. What is the appropriate number of times for masturbating?
Masturbation is self-limiting. One will stop masturbating if he or she feels tension has been relieved or if he/she feels tired after doing it. It is completely dependent upon the individual the number of times he/she wants to masturbate.
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13. Is masturbation harmful?
As in ordinary lovemaking, the only after-effect of masturbation is a feeling of sexual relief and relaxation. It is not true that masturbation can cause mental illness, blindness or impotency. These myths may be partly due to centuries of religious and cultural beliefs that view masturbation as sinful and harmful. Masturbation is a normal part of growing up and one should not feel guilty or ashamed about it. Masturbation can become disturbing if one becomes dependent on it for reducing emotional tension.
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14. Will masturbation have an effect on sexual intercourse in marriage in later life?
Not necessarily, if it is not performed habitually.
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15. Is it okay not to masturbate?
It is perfectly all right. Much has been said and written in favour of masturbation in the last few years merely to counteract centuries of mis-information and guilt. No harm will come to a person who chooses not to masturbate.
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16. What about moods during growing up?
Emotional changes often cause irritability and moodiness. This is a time of being rebellious. It is quite common to find life and relationships with adults strained. However, this will pass.

All these changes that occur are perfectly a normal part of growing up. It is important to be aware of these changes and be prepared for them.
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17. How does pregnancy occur?
During sexual intercourse, the male's erect penis enters the female's vagina. When the male ejaculates semen inside a female's vagina, as many as a hundred million sperm is deposited close to the cervix.

The sperm swims up through the cervix into the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. If there is an ovum or female egg in one of the tubes, the sperm clusters around it and one of the sperm joins the ovum. This is called fertilization.

The fertilized egg moves into the uterus and attached itself to the wall of the uterus and develops into a baby over a period of nine months. This is called pregnancy.

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18. What are the signs of pregnancy?
The early signs of pregnancy include:
  • Missed menstrual period
  • Nausea
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Frequent urination
  • Full, tender breasts
  • Change in appetite
In order to confirm the pregnancy, it is best to have a pregnancy test at a clinic/hospital.
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19. Can a girl get pregnant if she has sexual intercourse for the first time?
Yes. Pregnancy is possible after the first sexual intercourse if the girl is fertile at the time of intercourse and if an ovum has been released from the ovary and is in the fallopian tube.
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20. Can a girl get pregnant if the male ejaculates in the area around the vaginal opening?
There is a great possibility for a girl to get pregnant if she is fertile when this happens. Semen can still slip into the vagina and sperm can still swim up to the fallopian tubes and fertilize the ovum present there.
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21. How can pregnancy be prevented?
The surest way to prevent pregnancy is through abstinence or not having sexual intercourse. Other ways include determining when the girl is fertile and abstaining from sexual intercourse at this time; and through the use of contraceptives which prevent the union of egg and sperm.
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22. What are the risks involved in teenage pregnancy?
Childbearing before the age of 18 poses health risks for both mother and child. Some of these health risks are:-
  • Premature delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Undernourished foetus
  • Anaemia
  • Toxaemia/Raised blood pressure
  • High incidence of birth defects
  • High incidence of maternal and infant mortality
  • Difficulty in labour due to pelvis size which is not matured
  • Inadequate pre-natal care
Apart from this, education is cut short as pregnant girls cannot continue schooling. This ruins her future employment prospects and economic status. In many societies a pregnant teenage girl will be considered as a burden to her family and a social outcast.
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23. What is abortion?
Abortion is the expulsion of a developing foetus in the uterus before the foetus can survive separately from the mother. This usually takes place well before the twelfth week of pregnancy. Abortion may occur spontaneously or may be induced.

Spontaneous abortion is called a miscarriage whereby the mother’s body naturally expels the foetus from the lining of the uterus before it is old enough to be born.

An induced abortion is when artificial means such as suction is used to terminate the pregnancy.

In Malaysia, abortion is illegal unless a medical doctor certifies that the continuation of her pregnancy endangers the health of the mother.

The risks involved in abortion includes excessive bleeding infection, perforation of the uterus, premature birth in subsequent pregnancies, sterility and possible death. One of the gravest consequences is the feeling of guilt for having agreed to an abortion.
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24. What is a virgin?
A virgin is a person, male or female, who has never had sexual intercourse. However, society often associates a virgin with a woman and seldom refers to a man.

It is often assumed that a broken hymen (a ring of skin around the vagina opening) is an indication of "loss of virginity" for a woman.

However, the hymen may be broken not only through sexual intercourse but also vigorous exercises, or an accident or a medical examination of the lower body. What is more important is that depending on the shape or thickness of the hymen, which varies with every woman, it may not tear or break at all during sexual intercourse.

On the other hand, there seems to be no physical indication for "loss of virginity" in a man. There is also less concern about male virginity in general.

Is virginity, male or female, that important? A human being should be viewed as a total person, not as a virgin or not. Good character, warm personality, positive attitudes, responsibility - all these characteristics are more important in a person than his/her virginity.

Besides, there are many different circumstances under which a person may have obtained sexual experience. What a person is, is important, not what she/he may have been or may have experienced in the past.
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25. As boys and girls are growing up, why can they suddenly be interested in the opposite sex?
As you grow up, you may find yourself having a new and exciting interest in the opposite sex. You may even begin to feel an attraction for the opposite sex. This interest is natural especially if it is a part of a balanced life with other interests as well.

Some young people find that there is one person who is particularly attractive to them. They may spend a great deal of time together and enjoy each other's company a lot.

Some TV programmes, story books and songs tend to give the impression that sexual intercourse must happen in such a relationship. What do you think?

It is true that sex is in fact a wonderful thing. Sex is not a dirty word and it should not be whispered about or treated with shame and disgust. Sexual intercourse is an honest and sincere expression of love between two loving human beings.

As a responsible person and independent human being, you will want to leave sex out of the relationship until you are ready for it.

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