Adolescents and Young Adults

Your Health

Changes that Happen during Adolescence

Adolescene begins with phsyical changes that occur in the body related to the growth and preparation of reproductive organs. Even so, not only does adolescence brings about biological changes, but psychological and social ones as well.

All of these changes and the way they occur determine your sense of self-perception.

It’s important that you know that these changes don’t happen in all boys and girls at the same time. Each person develops at their own pace and it’s important to respect that.

Main Phsyical Changes in Men

      • Height increases
      • Back and shoulders widen
      • Body fat decreases
      • Acne (because of the development of the sebaceous glands)
      • Stronger odor from sweat (because of the development of sweat glands)
      • Deeper voice
      • Chest increases (although you most likely won’t notice)
      • Hair growth, including: under-arm, facial (beard and mustache), chest, legs, and pubic hair
      • The skin around nipples and genitals darkens
      • Development of testicles, prostate, and penis
      • First ejaculation occurs

Main Phsyical Changes in Women

      • Height increases
      • Widening hips
      • Acumulation of fat in hips and muscles
      • Accencuation of curves and waist
      • Acne (because of the development of the sebaceous glands)
      • Thinner voice
      • Increase in breast-size
      • Pubic and under-arm hair growth
      • The skin around nipples and genitals darkens
      • Development of the labia majora and menora, clitoris, vagina, and uterus
      • First menstruation

But changes to your emotions happen as well

The development of new interests may occur, such as dancing, doing sports, or spending more time with friends. But there could also be the development of new feelings and physical sensations, like having feelings for someone else, illusions, and disilusions.

Adolescence and the development of sexuality

Adolescence represents a time of physical and emotional growth that brings about new health-related concerns.

Many people believe that “sexuality” is a synonym for sex or it refers solely to one’s genitals. This term actually refers to a broader concept.

Sexuality is a process that begins when we’re born. It manifests itself in different ways throughout our lives and also involves our feelings, emotions, and the process of developing our identity. Sexuality also influences the way we dress, move, express ourselves, and relate to others.

El desarrollo sexual se evidencia en el plano emocional y en el plano físico.


The development of new interests, like dancing, doing sports, or spending more time with friends. But there could also be the development of new feelings and physical sensations, like having feelings for someone else, illusions, and disilusions.


The development of secondary sexual characteristis (pubic hair and a deeper voice in males and the deveopment of breasts and wider hips in females, among others). The physical differences between males and females are accentuated during this period. additional, genitals and other areas of the body, moreso than before, are now important sources of pleasurable sensations.

What is menstruation?

Menstruation is the loss of blood through the vagina once a month. The first menstruation is a very important moment for adolescents and it is one of the first signs that they are initiating the path towards sexual maturity.

First menstruation

It usually occurs between 12 and 14 years of age. Menstruation cycles occur every month, are temporarily absent during pregnancy and for a time after delivery, and disappear definitavely at 45 and 50 years which is known as menopause.

To talk about sexual and reproductive health is to talk about ...

      • The ability to enjoy a safe, responsibly, pleasurable sexual life free of coercion or violence
      • The freedom to decide whether or not to have sexual intercourse
      • The power to decide whether to have children or not, how many and when
      • The right to receive adequate information to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections
      • Care during pregnancy and delivery
      • Prevention of breast, cervical and prostate cancer
      • Treatment of infertility

Information to know about masturabation

Masturbation is the self-stimulation of the genitals in order to obtain sexual pleasure. It is a normal, intimate and healthy practice that helps to know one’s own body and own sexuality better.

In adolescence, masturbation plays a very important role in sexual development, favoring learning and self-exploration.

However, not only adolescents masturbate. It is an habitual intimate practice in most men and women of all ages.

People masturbate for various reasons; because it feels good, because it is a good way to reach orgasm, because it is a way to release tension, because they want to enrich their sexual life or explore their sexuality.

Masturbation does not have any kind of harmul effect to health. It should not be considered wrong or shameful behavior. On the contrary, it is a habitual and healthy practice. On the other hand, it is also good not to feel desire to masturbate or consider it opposite to one’s own values.

Information you need to know about contraceptive methods

There are several types of contraceptive methods which are all safe and effective. It is the couple who can decide better than anyone else, depending the context and mutual care, which is the most appropriate method of use. All contraceptive methods are distributed free of charge in health centers and pubic hospitals in the country. It is not necessary to be accompanied or authorized by an adult to withdraw them. They are also incldued in the Compulsory Medical Program so social and prepaid plans are also delivered free of charge. It is possible that, according to the health insurance and prepaid health coverage, it is necessary to carry out some procedure to obtain them.

Contraceptive methods

      • Condom
      • Birth control pills
      • Intrauterine device (IUD)
      • Injections
      • Emergency hormonal contraception (AHE)
      • Contraceptive pills for breastfeeding

In adolescence it is recommened to use double protection. In this case, double protection when in a sexual relationship means using two contraceptive methods (the condom to prevent STIs – sexually transmitted infections – and another method).

About contraceptive pills​

      • They have hormones that prevent ovulation.
      • Take a pill every day, until you finish the box.
      • The boxes can come with 21 or 28 pills.
      • When you finish a box of 21 pills, you rest a week after.
      • When you finish the box of 28 pills you immediately start another box.
      • The important thing is not to forget to take them, and not spend more than 7 days of rest in the boxes with 21 pills.
      • If you forget to take one or more, take them together the next day and use condoms for that week.
      • They are not recommended for women with high blood pressure.
      • This method does not protect against HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections.

Pills for breastfeeding

      • Podés usarlo si estás amamantando, tu bebé tiene menos de 6 meses, si lo alimentás sólo con leche materna y si todavía no menstruaste.
      • Tiene que darse todo ésto a la vez.
      • Podés empezar a tomarlas el día que nace tu bebé.
      • Se toma una pastilla todos los días, en el mismo horario. Cuando terminás la caja empezás una nueva, sin hacer ningún descanso.
      • Si te olvidás de tomar una o más pastillas, tomalas juntas al otro día, usa preservativos los siguientes 7 días y seguí tomando una por día.
      • No protege del VIH/SIDA ni del resto de las infecciones de transmisión sexual.

What is a IUD?

      • It is a very small plastic object covered with a copper thread that is placed in the uterus. – Prevents the ovules from joining sperm. There are different models.
      • It is placed by a health professionals. You do not need to do studies like pap smears (PAP), ultrasounds, or other tests. You also do not need the consent of the couple.
      • It is effective for five to ten years, depending on the model; and can be removed when you want. It is important that you remember the date on which it was placed and when it should be removed.
      • This method does not protect against HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections.


      • It is a finite, elastic and lubricated cover that is placed covering the penis when it is erect. Remember to tighten the tip of the condom before unrolling it so there is no air left.
      • It is used from teh beginnin gof the sexual relationship, because sometimes before the ejaculation there can present droplets of semen.
      • When you stop using it, remove it from the penis before losing the erection
      • A new one is used for each practice: vaginal, anal and oral.
      • It is not convenient to use oily lubricants such as vaseline, baby oil or kitchen oil because they damage the condom. You can use some water-based libricant.
      • It is the only method that at the same time prevents pregnancy and protects against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infecitons.

Emergency hormonal contraception (AHE) or “morning after pill”

      • It is a pill that acts by delaying ovulation and preventing the ovum and sperm from coming together.

Data to keep in mind about AHE

Use it when:

  1. The condom broke or slipped.
  2. The woman forgot to take the contraceptive pill.
  3. The man was going to end up outside and he did not.
  4. No contraceptive method was used.
  5. The woman was raped.

Ideally, it should be taken within the first 24 hours after the sexual intercourse. IT can be used up to tfive days later. The earlier you take it, the more effective it can be. 

It is not abortive. In the event that the pregnancy has already occured, it does not harm or alter its course.

It has no adverse effects for the organism.

However, it is not in regular use because it is not as effective as birth control pills. It is the last option to prevent and unplanned pregnancy.

They come in two presentations

1 tablet or 2 tablets. They have the same effect

This method does not protect against HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infecitons.

All of these contraceptive methods are distributed free of charge in healht centers and public hospitals in the country. They are also included in the Compulsory Medical Programe so social and prepaid plans are also delivered free of charge.

What are sexually transmitted infections (STIs?)

Las ITS son enfermedades infecciosas, que pueden transmitirse de una persona a otra durante una relación sexual vaginal, anal u oral.

Las ITS afectan a todos independientemente de la orientación sexual o identidad de género. Desde el comienzo de la vida sexual podés estar expuesto/a a estas infecciones.

Las producen más de 30 diferentes tipos de virus, bacterias y parásitos.

Las más frecuentes son la sífilis, gonorrea, clamidia, herpes, hepatitis B y C, VIH y VPH.

La mayoría de las ITS se pueden prevenir usando preservativo y, en caso de que tengas alguna de estas infecciones, son tratables y muchas de ellas se curan.

If they are not treated, the STIs can cause:​

      • If they are not treated, the STIs can cause:​

Main symptoms of STIs

      • Any injury to the genetial area, which hurts or not.
      • Secrets of pus on the genitals (vagina, penis or anus)
      • Burning when urinating
      • Genitar or anal flow different from usual
      • Pain in the lower abdomen
      • Injuries to the motuh or spots on the skin

STIs may not cause symptoms, especially in women. Sometimes they are only detected with a medical examination. When they manifest they can appear in different ways. That is why it is important to consult a hospital or healht center if you have any questions.

General recommendations to prevent or detect an STI

      • Most STIs can be prevented using a condom from the beginning of sexual intercourse.
      • Consulting the health professional about any symptom since most are treatable and many can be cured.
      • If you are pregnant, it is important that you and your partner perform the tests to, in case necessary, both can be treated and avoid transmitting them to the baby.
      • In the case of Hepatitis B, there is an effective vaccine to prevent the infection that is included in the National Vaccination Calendar.
      • In tbe case of HPV, the condom reduces the possibility of infection, but does not eliminate it altogether, since the virus can lodge in areas that are not protected by the condom. There is a vaccine that protects against the virus for 11 year old girls.


Vaccines in adolecence

Adolescence is a good time to verify that all vaccines are up to date. It is also important to take into account the following vaccines:

Bacterial double vaccine

At age 16, a double bacterial reinforcement is received which protects against tetanus and diphtheria.

In the case of not having received more vaccines after 6 years of age, a reinforcement of this vaccine should be received every ten years.

According to the place of residence, or in case of travel to a risk area, you may need

Vaccine against yellow fever

This vaccine applies only to those who live in risk areas, such as some regions of the provinces of Misiones and Formosa and all the departments bordering Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.

This vaccine is not recommened in immunosuppressed or pregnancy people.

Vaccine against hemorrhagic fever

For people at the age of 15 and only for those who live or perform rural tasks in areas of risk (province of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Córdoba and La Pampa)


At the age of 11:

      •   Hepatitis B: If the vaccine was received during childhood it is not necessary to re-vaccinate. Otherwise, it is necessary to start or complete the series of vaccinations as appropriate before the end of the primary period. There are three doses: one month after the first dose, the second dose is given, and 6 months after the first dose, the third dose is given.

      • Viral triple: This vaccine prevents against measles, rubella and mumps. If it had already been received during childhood it is not necessary to re-vaccinate. Otherwise, it is necessary to start or complete the scheme before finishing the primary.

      • Trpile acellular bacterial: to prevent diphtheria, tetanus and convulsive cough.
      • Vaccine against HPV: Only for girls of 11 years of age who were born after January 1, 200. There are 3 doses

These and all vaccines of the National Vaccination Calendar are applied for free in any vaccination center or public hospital throughout the country.