How is fast food bad for people?

fast food Great question! We try to encourage people not to think of food as “good” or “bad” because those are not qualities that food can really have (unless you are allergic to it). Instead, try to think of foods on a spectrum of healthiness; some foods are more healthy, some foods are less healthy. Generally speaking, fast food tends to be on the “less healthy” end of the spectrum for a few reasons:

  1. Fast food is usually higher in sodium and saturated fat (think fries and burgers) and lower in fiber (think fruits and vegetables). Too much sodium and saturated fat can be unhealthy especially for your heart. Fiber, especially from fruits and vegetables, is good for your digestion and has other health benefits.
  2. Portions tend to be bigger with fast food so you might eat more than you are actually hungry for, because it is sitting in front of you.
  3. People tend to drink sugar sweetened beverages such as soda, juice, or energy drinks with fast food rather than choosing the healthy alternative of water which they might do at home.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat fast food occasionally, just be aware that eating food prepared at home made from whole food ingredients (i.e. not frozen, from a can, or in a box) is the healthier choice. This way you can control what goes into it, how much you eat, and what you drink with it.

I recently I began having pain in my bladder/urethra when I move or sit a certain way. I also have pain when I pee as well. Could I have a urinary tract infection (UTI)? I am scared to tell my parents, help!

Thanks for your question. It’s possible that you have a urinary tract infection; however, the only way to know for sure is to see your primary care provider (PCP). Your provider will be able to tell if you have a UTI or if something else is causing your symptoms. You will likely be asked to pee into a cup so that your urine can be checked for bacteria. UTIs are a common type of infection where bacteria (germs) enter your urethra (opening where urine comes out) and up into your bladder. Anyone can get a UTI; children, teens, women, and men. UTIs are not contagious, meaning you cannot pass them from person to person. It is very important to tell your PCP if you are sexually active, as you may need STI testing as well. Treatment is available for both UTIs and STIs, with the right medications your symptoms should begin to improve within a few days.

For the future, here are some tips that are helpful for some young women trying to lower their chance of getting another UTIs: drinking 8-10 large glasses/day of water, pee or empty your bladder every 2 hours, some doctors also recommend urinating right after sex to “get rid of” any bacteria that may enter your urethra during sex, and finally several studies have found that  drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry extract can lower your risk of repeated UTIs (but will not treat or cure UTI) in some people. Antibiotics are used not just for treatment of UTIs but sometimes for prevention.

I am 17 years old and my period is strong. I end up spending the first day at home and missing school/work because my cramps are so painful. I also have nausea and become light headed. Is this normal?

painful crampsGreat question! Getting your period can cause mild cramps on the first day or two, but it shouldn’t cause you to stay home from school, work, or social events. Dysmenorrhea (pronounced: dis–men–o–ree–a) is a medical term for difficult or painful periods. There are two types of dysmenorrhea; primary and secondary. The most common type is primary dysmenorrhea, cramping that occurs in the lower abdomen (belly),  can start 1-2 days before your period and last 2-4 days. Girls may also experience lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, loose bowel movements/diarrhea,  and/or lightheadedness. Primary dysmenorrhea usually gets better with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications such as Ibuprofen or naproxen. If possible, you should begin taking NSAIDs 1-2 days before your period starts to help relieve discomfort. You may also find it helpful to track your periods – knowing when your pain is at its worst can be helpful, and finally, introducing a heating pad may also provide additional relief.

If the discomfort persists or becomes stronger, you may have secondary dysmenorrhea. Secondary dysmenorrhea can be caused by a medical condition known as endometriosis, which occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found outside of its normal location. This can cause pain before and/or during a girl’s menstrual cycle.  It is important that you schedule an appointment with your primary care provider (PCP) and share your symptoms, their intensity, and the things you have tried to relieve your symptoms. Your PCP may prescribe birth control pills to lessen the flow.  If you still have pain, check in with your PCP about seeing a  gynecologist to consider whether you might have endometriosis.

Adnexal mass: What to know

Adnexal masses are lumps that form in the adnexa of the uterus, which includes the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Keep reading to learn more.

What are the risks of using castor oil to induce labor?

Using castor oil to induce labor is growing in popularity. In this article, learn about the risks, the research, and whether or not it actually works.

What to know about pelvic floor dysfunction

Muscles and other parts of the pelvic floor can weaken or spasm, causing pelvic floor dysfunction. Learn more about this health issue here.

Can diet improve a person's vaginal health?

Eating certain nutrients as part of a healthful diet may help keep the vagina healthy, prevent infections, or improve vaginal conditions. Learn more here.

Aicardi syndrome: Everything you need to know

Aicardi syndrome is a rare genetic condition that causes seizures, vision problems, and other symptoms. Here, learn about treatments and more.

Demisexuality: What to know

People who identify as demisexual only experience sexual attraction to another person if they feel a strong emotional bond or connection with them first. Learn more here.

Depression during period: Everything you need to know

Depression is a common symptom before and during a period. Find out why hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can contribute to depression and learn what to do.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

Here, discover the early symptoms of breast cancer in males and females. We also describe the types of breast cancer and their treatments.

How can I overcome panic attacks? I’m a usually nervous person, but three panic attacks in two months seems like a lot and I don’t want my friends or my parents to know.

Hello, and thank you for asking this very important question! Panic attacks can be very scary and overwhelming, and you deserve to have some relief. They may occur when a person is experiencing a lot of stress. The stress may build up until it is so overwhelming that our bodies and minds feel out of control. These symptoms may occur in certain situations that cause intense fear or worry, such as giving a presentation in class. Panic attacks can cause tightness in our chest making us feel like we cannot breathe. It’s our body and brain’s way of trying to protect us, and alert us to the need to take care of ourselves. Experiencing a panic attack is traumatic and scary in itself and can cause more worry. Panic attacks can also be less obvious, causing vague symptoms such as nausea and/or dizziness. They can be very hard to treat on our own, and they can be difficult to explain to others. However, it is actually very common for people to experience anxiety and panic.

If you are not ready to tell your family or friends about your panic attacks, it may help to reach out to your health care provider, who can help support you with this. A teacher or guidance counselor at school may also be able to help until you are ready to tell a parent or friend. They can help you find a trusted person to talk to so you can learn techniques on how to manage them. Until you are able to get support, some simple tips that may help manage panic are:

  • Find a quiet room or space to take a break from the situation you are in
  • Try to quiet your mind by doing some deep breathing exercises—you will want to breathe in through your mouth until your belly fills like a big balloon, and slowly breathe out through your nose until all the air is gone. Repeat this and count your breaths until you feel a greater sense of calm.

How do you get birth control without your family knowing?

birth control pills

Birth control options are easily available in some countries and many states in the U.S., but not in others. In some communities, birth control pills  may even be sold over-the-counter without a prescription.   The best way to prepared is to check with your health care provider. What you talk about is confidential.

If you can talk with a parent about your health needs, that makes the process much easier, but some girls don’t have that type of relationship.  Think about birth control before you have sex with a partner.  Before you start birth control, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with either your primary care provider (PCP) or at a local family planning clinic to talk about the best and most effective birth control options for you. For example: Some girls prefer to take a pill every day while others find long acting birth control a better choice. Next, you’ll need to ask your provider about the options available where you live and whether visits to the doctor are included on insurance statements sent to your parents.  Some states have set up special ways to keep medical information private, especially for girls 18 to 26 years old when they are still on their parents’ insurance plan but clinical care should be confidential (private).  One option is to call your parent’s health insurance company and ask questions such as: “Can my parents see what kind of services I’m getting (such as birth control) on their insurance statement?”  In most states, health care providers can prescribe birth control without parental knowledge; however, there may be some situations or states that may require your parent’s OK. Talk to your provider about their policies and if you can access birth control at no cost or pay privately for your birth control.  You may also decide that it’s easier to have a conversation with one or both parents. They may actually be happy that you are being responsible and taking an active role in your health care. Staying healthy and reducing your risk of STDs is also important so use condoms always.  It’s also important to know that birth control hormones are also a treatment for a wide variety of symptoms including irregular periods, menstrual cramps, and acne, not just birth control.


State policies re: Teen’s rights regarding accessing birth control- privacy laws:

How does a hot flash feel?

A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat in the upper body, including the chest, arms, neck, and face. An increased heart rate and flushing can also occur. Learn more here.

Why do you get headaches during your period?

Some people may experience headaches during their periods. In this article, learn why period headaches happen and how to treat them.

What to know about symphysis pubis dysfunction

Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) occurs when joint stabilizing ligaments around the pelvic bones become too stretchy and relaxed. Learn more here.

Does talc powder cause ovarian cancer?

Scientists using the largest data set yet saw no link between powder use in the genital area and ovarian cancer. But they urge caution.

Abortion home remedies: Risks and what to know

Abortion home remedies are rarely safe or effective. In this article, learn about the other options for people looking to end their pregnancy at home.

What to know about PMS and depression

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause physical symptoms as well as emotional or mental issues, including some that are similar to the symptoms of depression. Learn more about these PMS symptoms here.

I just tried putting in a tampon for the first time. I was able to insert it half way, but I couldn’t push it any further. Is it my hymen that is blocking it? Should I see my health care provider?

It’s totally normal to have a little trouble inserting a tampon for the first time, but selecting the right time, tampon size, and position, can make the whole process a lot easier. For example: It’s easier if you don’t feel rushed and you have privacy; plan a good time when you can practice–you should be on your period. Tampons come in different sizes and for different amounts of flow such as lite, regular, super, or super plus. Some tampons come with an applicator (the device used to insert the tampon), while others don’t. Tampons with applicators come in plastic or cardboard. It’s important to start with a light or slender tampon and insert it while your menstrual flow is moderate to heavy. This will allow the applicator or tampon to glide in easily. Many girls find it helpful to either sit or stand while inserting a tampon. Some prefer to stand in a squatting position, while others find it easier to insert a tampon while sitting on the toilet. When inserting the tampon, visualize an imaginary line between your tampon and your tail bone. You’ll insert the tampon at this angle. It may be helpful to take some slow, deep breaths (in and out) before inserting the tampon, to help you relax. You can also use a mirror to help see where you are inserting the tampon.

About 2% of women are born with a very small opening in their hymen, which can prevent you from inserting your tampon. If you are still unable to insert your tampon (after several attempts), make an appointment with your health care provider (HCP).

Chest pains during pregnancy: What to know

A range of factors can cause chest pain during pregnancy, and some are more serious than others. Here, learn about these issues and when to see a doctor.

Pain in the lower abdomen and bloating: What to know

Lower abdominal pain and bloating sometimes occur together. Read on to find out the potential causes of these symptoms and the treatment options available.

Cystic Fibrosis: Trikafta

What is TrikaftaTM?

Trikafta is a “triple-combination therapy” made of three different modulator drugs- tezacaftor, ivacaftor, and elexacaftor. Modulators work by helping to fix defective CFTR protein. Trikafta may be much more effective than other available modulators, such as Symdeko® or Orkambi®.

What are the benefits of TrikaftaTM?

Clinical trials of Trikafta showed large improvements in people with CF. People with one copy of the F508del genetic mutation saw their lung function increase by more than 14 percent compared to people taking a placebo, or sugar pill. For people with two copies of the F508del mutation, lung function increased 10 percent compared to people taking another modulator, tezacaftor/ivacaftor (Symdeko®).  People in the clinical trials also saw big increases in their quality of life and their sweat chloride levels.  Many people taking Trikafta will also have improvements in gastrointestinal (GI) issues. Trikafta will probably not fix damage that has already occurred in the lungs and other organs (such as the pancreas).

Who can take TrikaftaTM?

Trikafta has been approved for people with CF ages 12 years and older who have at least one copy of the F508del mutation.  It does not matter what your second mutation is.

Is TrikaftaTM safe? What are the risks or side effects?

Trikafta was shown to be safe and may have fewer negative side effects than previous modulators. Trikafta may cause issues with your liver, so you must get blood tests to monitor your liver function every 3 months for the first year you take the drug. There is also an increased risk of cataracts (an issue with your vision) in people under 18 years old, so you will need an eye exam every year.

Certain drugs may interact with Trikafta, including some antifungal medicines and some antibiotics. You should not take Trikafta if you are on certain antibiotics (rifampin or rifabutin), specific seizure medications, or St. John’s Wort. Talk to your doctor about all your current medications before taking Trikafta.

Can I stop my other CF medications or therapies?

People with CF who take Trikafta will probably still need other daily treatments to manage their symptoms. You should discuss things with your CF team before making any changes to your medications or treatments.

Does TrikaftaTM have any effect on female sexual and reproductive health?

We do not completely know the effects of Trikafta on reproduction.

As with other modulator drugs, Trikafta may increase female fertility because it thins out cervical mucus (link to fertility guide). We do not know the effects of taking Trikafta if you are pregnant, either for you or for the developing baby.  Also unknown is how much Trikafta passes into breastmilk and its risks for nursing babies.

Trikafta is NOT expected to decrease the effectiveness of contraception, including forms of hormonal contraception like the birth control pill.

Some people who take Trikafta have developed rashes and many of these people are women taking the birth control pill.  If you develop a rash while taking Trikafta, you should talk to your CF team. If you are on the pill, you may want to discuss with them about changing the kind of birth control you take.

If you think you are pregnant or want to become pregnant and are taking Trikafta, it’s very important to tell your CF team as soon as possible. Your CF team will help you figure out any changes to your medications and therapies that may be required. They can confirm pregnancy through a pregnancy test and help you figure out the best decision based on your needs and your health. It’s important to know that you have many options.

How Safe Is It… to wear a tampon to bed?

How Safe Is It……. to wear a tampon to bed?


It is safe to wear a tampon to bed as long as you follow the directions on the product. Most products warn that you can wear a tampon for up to 4-8 hrs. However, if you typically sleep for longer than 8 hrs., you should wear a pad instead. The reason for this is although rare, TSS, or toxic shock syndrome, is a health concern. Bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureus) that is often associated with TSS naturally live on our bodies without causing problems. However, certain conditions such as leaving a tampon in for longer periods of time than recommended can cause bacteria to grow and make toxins which can cause a severe infection and effect your reproductive organs.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates and approves all tampons before they can be sold. Thus, tampons sold in standard grocery stores and pharmacies in the United States have been thoroughly tested for effectiveness and safety. The FDA recommends asking your health care provider if tampons are right for you. They also offer the following general advice about tampon use.

  1. Read and follow the tampon label instructions before using a new product.
  2. Only use tampons when you have a menstrual flow. Never use tampons for discharge or spotting-use a pantyliner instead.
  3. Never wear a tampon for longer than 4-8 hrs.
  4. Choose a tampon with the lowest absorbency that you need. Usually “regular” absorbency is fine.
  5. Be aware of pelvic pain or any other unusual symptoms such as a different or unpleasant vaginal discharge, and or pain when inserting a tampon. You should not be able to feel a tampon if it is inserted properly.
  6. Possible signs of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) include: a sudden fever, vomiting, diarrhea, fainting or feeling like you’re going to faint when standing up, dizziness, fainting or a sunburn-like rash. If you have any of these symptoms, remove the tampon, call your health care provider and go to the closest emergency room.

Read more: The Facts on Tampons—and How to Use Them Safely from the U.S. FDA

How Safe is it… to NOT use a bicycle helmet when riding?

Kicking off our “How Safe Is It?” Feature

Teens and parents often wonder how safe something is. We understand that with so much information in the media, it can be confusing in terms of what the bottom line is so you can stay safe. In our new feature, we’ve taken the guess work out of finding the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about your health.

How Safe is it to NOT use a bicycle helmet when riding?


Not safe. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), thousands of people die each year from injuries caused by bike crashes. Head injury account for 62% of bike related deaths. When used properly, bike helmets lower severe and fatal head injuries that can be life-changing. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), bicycle helmets are up to 88% effective in lowering head and brain injuries, making the use of helmets the single most effective way to prevent head injuries and deaths resulting from bicycle crashes.

Read more: Bike Safety