Teens & Youths

Eating and Exercise

Eating and exercising are extremely important parts of a healthy lifestyle - especially for children, whose bones, muscles and other body parts are still growing. Unfortunately, there are millions of children across the UK who are not eating and exercising properly. They eat junk food when they should be eating vegetables. They spend hours playing video games when they should be playing sports, dancing or walking the dog. If you don't eat and exercise properly now, your body could pay for it later. One or two minor changes can make a significant impact on your wellbeing.


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Never skip breakfast!
Eat as much fruit as you can. Take an apple, orange or banana in your lunch box.
Try and eat some vegetables. One or two each day is better than none.
Try and cut down on the amount of chocolate and sweets you eat.
Drink plenty of water each day. Try and cut down on the amount of fizzy drinks you have as they can damage your teeth.
Try walking or cycling to school.


It is likely that your parents will have ensured that you had all your childhood vaccinations. If this is the case, by the age of 12 you will have had four doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio. One more dose will ensure (in most cases) that you have lifelong protection. This dose will be due between 13 and 15 years of age and you will be sent a reminder by the surgery. It is also extremely important that you have the Meningitis C vaccine to protect against this dangerous and life-threatening disease. Please make sure that you attend when called for your immunisation. 


Bullying can happen anywhere, anytime to anyone. It’s not just a school or teenage problem. You can be bullied at home, in your neighbourhood, at work, on the internet and lots of other places. Even adults get bullied. So it’s really important to learn how to combat bullying. There are steps you can take to stop bullying but it is important to remember that all bullies are different and many are very unpredictable.

First, don’t let yourself become a victim. Fighting back against a bully will only escalate the situation and most of the time that is exactly what they want you to do. If the bullying is physical, try to avoid any situation where you will be alone with that person. 

Some situations are more serious, and will require intervention by other people. In a serious situation, you need to tell someone else about it. Go to an older person you can trust, your parent or a friend’s parent, the school teacher or the school nurse. It may be hard to believe, but the bully needs help just as much as you do, to keep the bullying from becoming a lifelong habit.

Finally, remember that you don’t deserve to be bullied. No one does. Don’t live with it thinking that is something you are doing wrong. See the bully “profile” below:

Ten Things You Should Know About Bullies:

Bullies come in all ages, sizes, genders, races, and religions.

Bullies use many tactics to threaten and harass people including, but not limited to, words and physical violence.

People who behave in an openly hostile manner, who threaten others to make themselves feel powerful, or who build themselves up by tearing others down, are bullies.

Females are more likely to bully with words while males most often resort to physical attacks. For this reason bullying by females is often ignored or not taken as seriously as bullying by men. The reality is that both types of bullying are very serious. Words can be just as harmful as physical violence and can cause lasting psychological damage to victims. The old adage, “Sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt you!” is simply not true. Never try to handle a bully alone. Always go to a person with authority over the bully such as; a teacher, a principal, a school liaison officer or a parent.

No matter what a bully threatens to do, you must tell somebody in a position of authority and your parents. Never suffer in silence. No matter how popular a bully seems you do not have to handle him/her alone. Responsible adults will help you if you tell them what is happening. Studies have shown that bullying stops when adults step in and telling an adult rarely makes the situation worse.
Bullies often model what they see at home. Sometimes a bully is really crying out for help. Bullies often act out because they feel they have no control over their own lives; they bully in an attempt to take control. Telling an adult about a bully may end up helping BOTH of you.

Ignoring bullies does not make them stop. Only adult intervention and awareness can end the harassment. Bullies thrive on the reactions of their victims and ignoring them can make them step up their efforts. However, if you tell an adult and then start ignoring the bullying behaviour the bully will tend to back off. Only start ignoring the behaviour after you have made as many adults as possible aware of the problem.

As children grow into teens bullying behaviours often escalate. Death threats, taunts urging suicide, group attacks, and violence with weapons can occur. This sort of behaviour is criminal and should always be reported to the police as well as to school officials and parents.


You wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and what’s the first thing you see? Another pimple! What can you do? Don’t worry. You can stop them. Teenagers all over the world are waking up to the same thing and maybe you will feel better if you understand the causes of your unwanted visitors!

Acne is a general term for pimples and deeper pustules, that are clogged pores. If severe enough acne can leave permanent scars. Scarring is what you want to avoid. Don’t squeeze your spots and read on…

Spots pop up for a lot of reasons. Unfortunately, there are many myths about what these reasons are. Factors that will contribute to acne are stress, the menstrual cycle, nutritional deficiencies, over-washing and repeated rubbing of the skin. 

About 80% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 will be affected. During puberty high levels of hormones are produced in both girls and boys. This leads to the production of large quantities of an irritant that can clog the pores and form a pimple which can become infected. As hormones don’t go away after adolescence, many girls will still get premenstrual acne.

Acne is not caused by dirty pores but most likely by over active oil glands. Oil free washes can be purchased from the Chemist. Oil free washes have been clinically proven to help prevent breakouts. Simply spread a thin layer all over your face. Start with once daily and increase to two or three times daily if needed. Acne pads and sticks are also available. Both have invisible medication that penetrates pores to help keep them clear. 

There is no single medicine or acne treatment. Treatment should be designed according to your own personal needs. The only way to know for sure which product will work best for your skin is to try it, and if it works, stick to it!

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Oral antibiotics can have an antibacterial effect as well as an anti-inflammatory effect. The doctor may refer you to a dermatologist (doctor who specialises in skin conditions).

Don’t let acne get out of control. This just makes it harder to treat. You can have clearer skin with the right combination of treatments. Remember: clean, prevent and treat. This is a good start to a lifetime of healthy skin.

Drugs, Smoking and Alcohol

Almost all recreational drugs are illegal, and you can go to prison if you are caught in possession. This may mean that it is much more difficult to get into University or get a job because you have a police record. To give yourself the best chance to develop a sharp mind and body, don’t do drugs of any kind, not even things you find in your own home. All illegal (and legal) drugs can be dangerous to use. Drugs can numb your memory, impair your judgement, and make it impossible to feel good or function without them. Even drugs like marijuana, can make you emotionally dependent. Once you get used to the ‘feelings’ you get from pot, you may find it harder and harder to cope with normal everyday ups and downs. People who take more than one drug dramatically multiply their chances of having a bad reaction.

Did You Know?

Marijuana (also known as pot, cannabis, etc) smoke does more damage to your body than cigarette smoke. It generally has no filter and is a lot more dangerous to smoke. It has more tar than tobacco and can influence your hormones. Because this type of drug is illegal, you will never know if it has been ‘laced’ or ‘spiked’ until you use it. Today’s marijuana is more potent than the kind on the go in the 1960s and 1970s.

Chemicals found around your home were not meant to be sniffed. They may seem harmless but can be very dangerous, can cause brain damage and be deadly.

People who snort cocaine, or use drugs made from it, like crack, do so because they say it makes them feel energetic and able to handle problems and stress. However, when they discover what else it does, many of them wish they had never tried it. It costs a lot of money to get as much as they need and want, and often they have to steal to support their habit. It may also make their nose bleed a lot and can even ‘burn’ a hole inside of the membranes of the nose.

Binge drinking is defined as ‘the consumption of five or more drinks in a row on at least one occasion’. It increases the risk for alcohol related injury. Violence can and does occur more frequently when consuming large amounts of alcohol by binge drinking. Binge drinking can cause severe harm, and can even kill. 

Saying No To Drugs, Smoking and Alcohol

Your teachers and adults will call it ‘peer pressure’, but to you it’s just doing what your friends are doing. You may be out with your friends and they decide it would be fun to do something that they know they are not supposed to do – like smoke, drink or take drugs. You are in a tough spot, you either go along with them or may end up feeling left out and abandoned. What you need is a way to handle these situations that prevent either consequence.

Obviously, the ideal way is to just tell your friends that you don’t want to smoke, drink or use drugs. Some of them will understand and will stick by you. Others may need the comfort they get from the ‘crowd’ too much to understand and appreciate what you are doing or saying. They might make you feel left out or give you a hard time. This is when you need your other friends or family to support your beliefs and remind you that you don’t have to do unhealthy or dangerous things. Your good friends will not want you to get into trouble or to do any harm to yourself.

Talk to your parents

Talk to your parents about drugs. They will be glad to hear your opinions. If you are not able to talk to your parents, speak to your teacher or school nurse. Alternatively, you can call the surgery at any time to make an appointment with our Nurse to go over any issues or concerns you may have.

Birth Control         

You should never feel pressured into having a sexual relationship with anyone. It is always best to wait until you are in a steady relationship and are old enough to make a sensible decision about what is right for you. If you are considering having a sexual relationship, PLEASE speak to someone about an appropriate type of birth control.

When you are a young adult, your choices for a birth control method may be different from that of a women who is older or who is married. We think it is important for you to know about birth control methods available today, even if you are not yet sexually active.

It is a known fact that 25% of women who have intercourse without using a method of birth control will become pregnant within one month and 85% will become pregnant within one year. Is it really worth the risk?

When choosing a birth control method, consider how well each one will work for you:

How effective is it?
How will it fit into your lifestyle?
How safe is it?
Is it affordable?
Does it protect you from sexually transmitted diseases?

These are important questions that are worth taking some time to think about. We hope that many of you can discuss these options with someone. However, you can get a prescription for birth control without parental consent. You can also see a doctor or nurse without anyone else knowing. It is your body and your privacy. 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The general term sexually transmitted disease (STD) is applied to any of the group of diseases that can be spread by sexual contact. The group includes conditions that used to be called venereal diseases (VD), named after Venus, the goddess of love.

We are sure you will have heard about sexually transmitted diseases in one way or another – at school, in the news, on TV, in magazines or from friends.

It is important to note that teenagers have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases of any age group. You can catch one, so please USE A CONDOM.

STDs are spread from one person to another through intimate sexual contact such as sexual intercourse, oral-genital contact, or anal sex. You CANNOT get STDs from toilet seats, doorknobs, or from shaking someone’s hand. You cannot tell if a person has a STD from just looking at him or her, even if they are naked!

The impact of STDs is particularly severe for women. Since many STDs often cause few or no symptoms, they may go untreated and women can be at serious risk of complications arising from STDs. Some of these complications include: ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain and even infertility.

If you think you have an STD, or if you were with someone sexually who might have an STD, you should see your doctor or nurse right away. Your partner should be tested too. Chlamydia is the number one sexually transmitted disease in the UK, but it can be cured. So make sure that you are tested. 

Genital warts are more common in women than men but can be treated. They are very contagious so please make sure that you and your partner are treated as soon as possible.

Testicular Self Examination

Cancer of the testicles accounts for only about 1% of all cancers in men. However, it is the most common type of cancer in males aged between 18 and 40, and can occur any time after age 15.

Often only one testicle is affected. The cause of testicular cancer is still unknown. Risk factors, however, have been found. These include:

Uncorrected undescended testicles in infants and young children. (Parents should make sure that their infant boys are checked at birth for undescended testicles.)
A family history of testicular cancer. (If you don’t know, then ask.)
Having an identical twin with testicular cancer.
Injury to the scrotum or to a testicle.
It’s five times more common among white males.

What is Testicular Self Examination?

The TSE is a method for males to check their testicles to make sure there are no unusual bumps or lumps, which may be the first sign of testicular cancer. Sometimes cancer of the testicles will spread, so it’s very important to detect it early so that the cancer does not become more serious. 

How do I do a TSE?

Check yourself right after a hot shower. The skin of the scrotum is then relaxed and soft.
Become familiar with the normal size, shape and weight of your testicles.
Using both hands, gently roll each testicle between your fingers.
Identify the epididymis. This is a rope-like structure on the top and back of each testicle. This structure is NOT an abnormal lump.
Be on the alert for a tiny lump under the skin, in front or along the sides of either testicle. A lump may remind you of a piece of uncooked rice or a small cooked pea.
Report any swelling to your doctor.

If you have any lumps or swelling, it does not necessarily mean you have cancer, but you must be checked by your doctor. If detected and treated early, testicular cancer is one of the most curable cancers.

Warnings Signs of a Problem

In the early stages, testicular cancer may have no symptoms. When there are symptoms, they include:

Small, painless lump in a testicle
Enlarged testicle
Feeling of heaviness in the testicle or groin
Pain in the testicle
A change in the way the testicle feels
Enlarged male breasts and nipples
Blood or fluid that accumulates suddenly in the scrotum.

Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website