How safe is it to shave pubic hair?

Many people shave or groom their pubic hair for personal reasons, including ideas about attractiveness, comfort, and what a sexual partner may desire. It is important to know that there are no medical benefits to removing pubic hair, and the decision to do it is personal.

Here are some risks associated with shaving pubic hair:

  • Genital itching or burning
  • Injuries including cuts or scrapes
  • Rashes including “razor burn” or reactions to shaving products
  • Bumps including ingrown hairs or folliculitis (infection of a hair follicle)
  • Skin infections or abscesses

There are also studies that show removing pubic hair might increase your risk of getting or exposing a partner to sexually transmitted infections. This could be because of cuts (sometimes even too small to see) or skin irritation caused by hair removal, especially shaving. Make sure to avoid sexual contact if you have open cuts, and don’t share razors with friends or sexual partners.

If you decide to shave your pubic hair, there are some things you can do to lower your risk:

  • Trim longer hairs before shaving
  • Apply warm water to skin before shaving
  • Lather skin with shaving cream or gel before shaving
  • Always use a clean razor blade
  • Shave lightly in the direction that the hair grows. Limit the amount of times you shave over each area (not more than 2 times).
  • Stretch skin slightly while shaving to avoid cuts. Be careful not to pull too tightly because this can cause ingrown hairs.
  • After shaving, wash skin with soap and water. Lightly pat skin dry after washing and apply moisturizer.

If you have questions about pubic hair removal, be sure to talk to your health care provider or read this health guide to learn more about it.

Dating Violence: Quizzes

Quiz #1

Take this quiz to help figure out if you’re experiencing abuse in your relationship.

Read statements 1-8 and think about your answers.

  1. I’m scared of talking to/spending time with, or hugging other people because my partner may get angry.
  2. I have to check in with my partner about where I’m going or they will get angry.
  3. My partner calls and texts me all day long and gets angry if I don’t respond.
  4. I feel embarrassed about how my partner treats me.
  5. My partner has pushed, slapped, or hit me.
  6. My partner likes to choose what I wear.
  7. My partner has said things such as, “Why do you make me so angry” or “Why do you make me treat you this way.”
  8. I’m fearful of my partner and worry about ending the relationship.

 

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions it’s possible that you have experienced some dating violence in your relationship. It is important to remember that abuse is never your fault. Visit our other guides to learn more about dating violence and how to get help.

 

Quiz #2

Take this quiz to help figure out if you’re behaving violently in your relationship.

Read statements 1-8 and think about your answers.

  1. I get very angry when I see my partner talking to, spending time with, hugging, texting, or social networking with another person.
  2. I need to know where my partner is most (or all) of the time.
  3. Calling and texting my partner all day long shows them how much I care about them.
  4. I feel guilty or ashamed about how angry I become with my partner.
  5. I’ve pushed, slapped, or hit my partner.
  6. I have strong preferences about what my partner wears.
  7. My partner gets me so angry that I sometimes feel out of control.
  8. I’m concerned about the way I treat my partner.

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions it’s possible that you’ve been behaving abusively towards your partner. It’s important to get help now to stop the cycle of dating violence.

Dating Violence: How to get help

Dating violence is common in teenagers and young adults, so it is likely that you or someone you know could be affected by it. Knowing what dating violence is and how to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship can be an important first step. Whether you want to get help for yourself or a friend, want to learn more about dating violence, or think you may be acting abusively in your relationship, there are many resources available to you.

Our goal is to keep you safe. Please make sure you are in a safe place before accessing any resources. If you feel like you are in danger or need help immediately, please call 911.

I think I may be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

Remember, abuse is never your fault. When you are ready, there are many options available to you to get support. It is great if you have a friend or family member to talk to because having a support system is important. However, even though these people love and care about you, they might not know what to do if you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. We also encourage you to talk to other trusted adults (teachers, coaches, counselors, and healthcare providers) because they often have special training on how to deal with dating violence. However, these people may not always be available (for example during nights, weekends, or vacations), it might be difficult to find transportation, or you may feel more comfortable talking to someone you don’t know confidentially.

That is why we want to give you options to talk to trained peer advocates (someone around your age who has knowledge about dating violence) who are available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week to listen, answer questions, and connect you to resources in your area. All conversations are confidential.

 Here are some ways to get started:

Call

  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
    • 1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453 for TTY
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    • 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY
  • LGBTQ-Friendly Resources
    • The GLBT Talkline: 1-888-843-4564
  • GLBT Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-7743
  • The Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

 Text/Chat

  • Go to Loveisrespect.org for the most updated information on texting/chatting with a peer advocate.

 Websites

I want to ask for help. What should I say?

We understand it can be hard to talk about your relationship and sometimes even awkward if you are talking to someone you don’t know.

There is no wrong way to start the conversation, but here are some suggestions:

  • I think I might be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. How do I know?
  • My partner does (example of behavior), is that ok?
  • I am scared of my partner. How can I stay safe?
  • How can I leave an abusive relationship?

What if it isn’t safe for me to ask for help?

Depending on your situation, some resources might be safer to use than others–we trust your judgment.

Here are some tips for reaching out to support services:

  • Delete text messages, phone call history, and Internet search history after using the resource.
  • Ask to use the phone, computer, or tablet of someone you trust to access resources.
  • Purchase a “secret” phone to keep in a safe place, so you can have access to a phone if you need to get help.
  • Use phones in the community to call a hotline. Phones are usually available at community centers or public libraries.

If you feel like you are in danger or need help immediately, please call 911.

How do I keep myself safe?

Everyone’s situation is unique, that is why we recommend developing a safety plan. Your safety plan is made just for you and can help you know what to do if you are in danger. Consider creating your safety plan with someone you trust or with the help of a peer advocate. Visit this website for more information about safety planning.

Why do some people stay in an unhealthy or abusive relationship?

It can be hard to end any relationship, and an unhealthy or abusive relationship is no exception. If you are in an abusive relationship, there can be many benefits to leaving- including improved emotional health, physical health, and relationships with other people. Most of all, you deserve to be in a relationship with a partner who respects you. Many people are afraid of what their partner might do if they end the relationship, and in some cases, it may not be safe to leave.

If you are considering leaving an abusive relationship, talk to someone you trust, make a plan to keep yourself safe, and ask for help. If you know someone in an abusive relationship, it is important to understand why they may not leave the relationship and support them, even if they decide to stay with their partner.

Here are some reasons why it can be hard to leave an abusive relationship:

  • The person may still love their partner, and it can be hard to turn these feelings off.
  • People may think they will be able to change their partner’s behavior, or it won’t happen again.
  • The victim may also feel like the abuse is their fault or not recognize the behaviors as abusive.
  • A person may rely on their partner for money, a place to live, or help with a disability.
  • Fear can play a big role in staying in an abusive relationship. An abusive partner may threaten to reveal information (sexual orientation, immigration status, intimate photo) or hurt their partner if they end the relationship.

My friend is in an abusive relationship, what should I do?

It can be very hard to see someone you care about in an abusive relationship. Remember the abuse is never their fault and they are the only one who can decide to leave the relationship.

Here are some of the ways you can help:

  • Tell your friend you are concerned about them. Even if they don’t show it, they will appreciate knowing that you are there for them.
  • Provide support, listen, and remind your friend the abuse is never their fault.
  • Encourage your friend to talk to a trusted adult and safely access resources.
  • Work with your friend to create a safety plan.
  • Avoid confronting the abuser. You are unlikely to make the abuser change their actions, and this may make the situation worse.
  • Take care of yourself. It is normal to feel overwhelmed when someone you care about is struggling. You should talk to a trusted adult (parent, teacher, coach, counselor), healthcare provider, or peer advocate (resources above) about your feelings and how to help your friend.

You may also find yourself in a situation where you notice a friend is behaving violently towards their partner. It can be hard to admit your friend is abusive, but ignoring these behaviors is the same as encouraging them. Help your friend recognize their behaviors are wrong and encourage them to get professional help. Don’t blame the partner for the abuse or try to justify your friend’s behavior. Educate your friend on healthy relationships and set a good example in your own relationships. If you have questions on how to help a friend who is behaving abusively, you should talk to a trusted adult, healthcare provider, or peer advocate (resources above).

I’ve been abusive in my relationship. What should I do?

Recognizing your behavior as unhealthy or abusive is the first step to changing your behavior. It is important to realize that you have control over your behavior. In order to stop being abusive, it is important to get help from a professional. You should talk to a healthcare professional or a trained peer advocate (resources above) about accessing resources near you. You may feel uncomfortable talking to someone about your behavior, but remember, these individuals are trained to get you the help you need and will be there to support you. If you are committed to changing your behavior and accept help from others, you will be able to have healthy relationships in the future.

Most importantly, you should respect your partner’s decision to end the relationship or get help from the police or legal system. Even if you are working on changing your behavior, your partner always has a right to be safe.

Dating Violence: General Information

Dating and relationships are an important part of growing up. All relationships have qualities that can make them healthy, abusive, or somewhere in between. Being in a dating relationship can mean different things to different people. Whether you’re official, dating, talking, or hooking up, you and your partner deserve to be treated with respect.

What is Dating Violence?

“Dating violence” refers to dating relationships with any type of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, and digital).

Anyone can be a victim of abuse or behave in an abusive way regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, or sexual practices. Someone can also experience abuse and behave abusively in their relationship at the same time.

You may have an idea about what dating violence or abusive relationships look like from your own experiences or what you have seen in other people’s relationships, your culture, TV, movies, or online. While many people know something about dating violence, there is still a lot to learn– around half of college students say it’s hard to identify dating violence. This guide will give you more information about dating violence and how to get help.

It is important to know that unhealthy or abusive behaviors are NOT normal. If you are experiencing them, it is NEVER your fault.

How common is Dating Violence?

Dating violence is common among teenagers and young adults. It is hard to know exactly how many people experience dating violence because many victims never tell anyone about the abuse.

  • About 1.5 million high school students report physical abuse from a partner in the US every year.
  • Around 10% of high school students have experienced sexual abuse.
  • People between 18 and 24 years old have the highest rates of stalking in the US.
  • More than half of people who experience abuse in adult relationships report their first experience with dating violence occurred between the ages of 11 and 24.

Because this is such a common issue, it is likely that you or someone you know is affected by dating violence. It is important for you to be able to recognize the signs and know how to get help.

What makes a relationship healthy, unhealthy, or abusive?

Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect, good communication, and equality. Each partner is appreciated and valued in a healthy relationship. However, this doesn’t mean the relationship or partners are perfect. Even in healthy relationships, a partner can make a mistake. What makes the relationship healthy is that even in conflicts or disagreements, you should be able to tell your partner how you feel, and they should respond in a way that makes you feel safe and supported.

Unhealthy relationships are somewhere in between healthy and abusive. One person may try to make most of the decisions or control how the other person acts. Some examples of unhealthy behaviors are:

  • Imbalance: Your partner always decides what restaurant you eat at or where you go on a date.
  • Inconsiderate behavior: You ask your partner not to call you when you are visiting your grandmother, but they call you multiple times anyways.
  • Holding grudges: Your partner gives you the silent treatment after you decide to go to the movies with a friend instead of hanging out with them.
  • Poor communication: After a disagreement, your partner avoids you instead of telling you what is bothering them.

Abusive relationships can include physical violence, but that is not the only kind. There are many types of violence that can take place in a relationship, including physical, emotional, sexual, and digital abuse. Some of these might be harder to recognize than others, and they can all be serious. In general, abusive relationships are based on unequal power and control. Some examples of abusive behaviors are:

  • Anger
  • Blame
  • Manipulation
  • Stalking
  • Isolation
  • Pressure
  • Lies
  • Threats

What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse is when another person intentionally touches you in an unwanted way or comes in close contact to your body. Physical abuse can be painful, leave a bruise, or cause an injury- but it doesn’t always. All types of physical abuse are serious.

A few examples of physical abuse are:

  • Hitting, slapping, grabbing, or kicking
  • Choking or strangling
  • Throwing objects at you, even if it doesn’t hit you
  • Using a weapon (such as a gun, knife, bat, or other object)

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional (or verbal) abuse is when a person says or does something that makes you feel afraid or bad about yourself. It can also include constant monitoring or stalking. Some people believe that emotional abuse isn’t as serious as physical abuse, but we know that isn’t true. Experiencing emotional abuse can affect your self-esteem and confidence. All types of abuse are wrong, and you never deserve to feel controlled or afraid in your relationship.

A few examples of emotional abuse are:

  • Threatening to harm you or themselves if you break up with them
  • Yelling at you or blaming you for their actions
  • Embarrassing you on purpose or calling you names
  • Controlling what you wear or who you spend time with
  • Saying they will reveal your secrets if you don’t do what they say

 What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse refers to any unwanted sexual contact or any sexual contact when someone doesn’t have the ability to control their sexual activity (they are passed out or intoxicated). All sexual contact requires enthusiastic consent. If someone doesn’t resist sexual contact, that doesn’t mean they consent. A person may not resist an unwanted sexual act for many reasons. For example, they are afraid of getting hurt if they fight back or cannot say “no” because they are intoxicated or passed out. Just because a person has consented to a sexual act, this doesn’t mean they can’t change their mind in that moment or in the future. Sexual abuse doesn’t have to be violent or leave a mark. People can experience sexual abuse from anyone, including a stranger, friend, dating partner, or a spouse.

Some types of sexual abuse are harder to recognize, like refusing to use condoms when asked or saying, “if you loved me, you would have sex with me.”

A few examples of sexual abuse are:

  • Any unwanted sexual contact (kissing, touching, penetration)
  • Sexual contact with someone who can’t consent (they are passed out or intoxicated)
  • Using threats or bribes to get someone to do sexual acts
  • Using a weapon or physical force to make someone perform sexual acts
  • Name calling or unwanted violent behavior during sex
  • Pressuring or forcing a partner to have sex with or perform sexual acts to someone else

What is digital abuse?

Digital abuse is when a partner uses technology to bully, harass, control, stalk, or intimidate a partner. Technology is a great way to stay in touch and connected with the people you care about, especially your partner. Your partner should not try to control how you use technology or social media and shouldn’t use technology to try to control you. Remember, all healthy relationships have boundaries – and this includes technology. Try having a conversation with your partner at the beginning of your relationship to help establish these boundaries (for example: Will you use each other’s phone? Will you check-in to share location? Will you post about your relationship on social media?).

Some examples of digital abuse are:

  • Demanding to have access to your passwords or messages
  • Texts you excessively and gets mad if you don’t respond
  • Tells you who you can be friends with or follow on social media
  • Keeps tabs on who you are texting, calling, or messaging
  • Pressures you to send explicit videos, pictures, or texts
  • Uses GPS or social media to know your location

How can I get help?

Whether you want to get help for yourself or a friend, want to learn more about dating violence, or think you may be acting abusively in your relationship, there are many resources available to you. Here are a few of our favorite resources, and if you want to learn more about resources, visit our “How to get help” guide.

Our goal is to keep you safe. Please make sure you are in a safe place before accessing any resources. If you feel like you are in danger or need help immediately, please call 911.

 Call

  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
    • 1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453 for TTY
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    • 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY
  • LGBTQ-Friendly Resources
    • The GLBT Talkline: 1-888-843-4564
  • GLBT Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-7743
  • The Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

 Text/Chat

  • Go to Loveisrespect.org for the most updated information on texting/chatting with a peer advocate.

 Websites

How am I supposed to cope? How do I live with this now and for the rest of my life? I’m a senior and this week should have been my last week of school. No goodbyes. No graduation. No senior baseball season. No senior play. No senior prom. Nothing.

depressed girlThank you for writing in – you are giving voice to what so many seniors are feeling right now. This is not the senior year anyone expected or planned for. You, and so many others, are likely feeling a sense of grief and loss of all of the things you had looked forward to at the end of the school year. Not having these milestones and not having closure of the school year is a huge loss that many people are struggling with. You may be feeling sad, angry, shocked, confused, or all of the above. Similar to when you lose a loved one, grief takes time to recover from.

Some things you may find helpful:

  • Giving voice to your feelings is important in the path to coping. You’ve already done this, and we encourage you to continue to do so.
  • Stay socially connected during this time, whether by texting or a virtual get-together.
  • Identify things that you are grateful for and the things you can control.
  • Identify things you can do right now. Without the usual activities that you enjoy, you may have to think creatively about things you can do at home or virtually that bring you moments of joy and relaxation.
  • Consider alternate celebrations. While it will not be the same as the graduation or prom you planned, consider a way to celebrate your accomplishments at home or virtually.
As time passes, you may consider the ways these few months have been meaningful for you and your classmates. It’s not the senior year you hoped for, but it is a shared experience that you and your friends will carry with you, look back on, and feel bonded over.
We also encourage you to reach out to your healthcare provider who may be able to offer resources and tips unique to you and your community.​

I am a virgin, but sometimes when I’m doing jumping jacks, it sounds like my vagina is clapping. Why does this happen? Can I make it stop?

girl with hands over groinThank you for your question. Our bodies can make a lot of different sounds, sometimes they’re funny and other times they’re downright embarrassing. Either way, it’s important to remember you’re not alone! The sound you are hearing is likely due to air becoming trapped in the vaginal cavity. Once the air leaves the vaginal cavity, it can make an unusual sound, regardless of whether or not you’re sexually active. You may hear the sounds during sex, exercise, or even during your pelvic exam. Many teens refer to these sounds as a “vaginal fart” “queef”, or “vart.”   You can’t do anything to prevent the noise from happening, but most of the time you might be the only one who hears it.  However, if you have concerns about your health, call or schedule an appointment with your health care provider (HCP).

How safe is it to vape?

How safe is it to vape?

Answer:

Lots of people have questions about vaping and its effect on health.

Here are some facts:

  • Vaping or using e-cigarettes as a teenager or young adult increases your risk of smoking regular cigarettes in the future.
    • One study showed teenagers using e-cigarettes in high school were 7 times more likely to smoke cigarettes approximately 6 months later, when compared to students not using e-cigarettes.
  • 2,807 people were hospitalized for lung problems from vaping by February 2020 in the United States.
  • Almost all vape products have nicotine, even if they say “Nicotine Free.”
  • Vape products have high amounts of nicotine compared to cigarettes. This means they are more addictive than cigarettes.
    • 1 JUUL pod = 20 regular cigarettes

Vaping is still pretty new, so not all the side effects are known. Side effects are experienced by people vaping and those who breathe the air around them (like secondhand smoke). Most of the known side effects are from the chemicals in the vape liquid. This includes nicotine which can cause addiction, heart problems, and harm brain development. There are also other chemicals, like heavy metals or carcinogens (chemicals that cause cancer).

Overall, vaping or using e-cigarettes is not safe and is not recommended for teenagers and young adults. If you have questions about vaping, talk to your healthcare provider or go to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to learn more.