Junior High FAQ

Additional questions and answers may be found in the elementary and senior high sections.

Almost half of all males will have a temporary swelling of the breasts during puberty because of hormones. This swelling goes away over time. If you’re worried about this, talk to a health care provider.

Hair, no matter where it is on the body, helps to protect our bodies and regulate our body temperature.

Breasts start developing at different ages, and continue developing at different rates. Breasts may start growing anytime between age 8 and 16, and it could happen even earlier or later than this. Starting earlier or later does not have anything to do with how quickly breasts will develop, or what size they will eventually become.

Like most parts of the body, breasts can be sore from time to time, especially if they’re pushed. One of the most common times that breasts might feel sore is when they’re beginning to develop.

You might first notice a small button-like lump beneath the nipple area (called a breast bud). The breast buds and nipples may be a little tender during puberty. It’s also common for the breasts to be sore or tender during menstruation.

A yeast infection is a common infection caused by a type of fungus called Candida albicans. Yeast infections usually happen in warm, moist parts of the body, like the mouth or vagina. We all have this fungus in our bodies, but it’s usually kept in balance. Things like taking antibiotics, using scented pads or tampons, wearing clothing that’s too tight or not breathable can change this balance and make yeast infections more likely.

Treating a yeast infection is simple, but it’s still important to visit a health care provider for the right diagnosis, since other infections can cause similar symptoms that need a different treatment. If you do have a yeast infection, your doctor will probably prescribe a pill to swallow or a cream, tablet or suppository to put in the vagina.

Blood, soft tissues and other fluids make up the menstrual flow. The colour can be anywhere from bright red or pink to a darker red.

There are commercials on TV that use a blue fluid to show menstrual flow on a pad.

This is perfectly normal. Puberty takes place over several years. It also happens in stages, not all at once. While menstruation usually begins around 11 or 12 years, it can start as early as 8 and as late as 15, which is also normal.

Menstruation is a normal part of life. You can do everything you’d do if you weren’t having a period.

PMS is short for premenstrual syndrome. A week or so before menstruation the body begins making more of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones can cause feelings and symptoms that together are called PMS. Symptoms of PMS can include cramps, tender breasts, sore back, tiredness, bloating, headaches and feeling irritable or emotional.

Tampons are safe when you follow the instructions correctly. Using a tampon the right way can prevent a rare but serious infection called toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Some symptoms of TSS are headache, sore throat, sudden fever, vomiting, diarrhea, achy muscles and a rash that looks like a sunburn.

To prevent TSS, change tampons every 3 to 4 hours, no matter how light the bleeding is. Because tampons aren’t meant to be left in longer than 8 hours, some women choose to wear a pad at night.

It’s very unlikely for a tampon to get stuck in the vagina. Tampons are attached to a string a few inches long that hangs out the vagina. You take the tampon out by pulling gently on the string. If the tampon won’t come out, see a healthcare provider right away because of the risk of TSS if the tampon is left in too long.

No. Tampons are just one of the ways you can choose to use to manage your menstrual flow. Virginity is a term that refers to whether or not you have ever had sexual intercourse, and is not affected by using tampons.

Although the average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, irregular periods are common during puberty. If there is a chance of a pregnancy, you should take a pregnancy test and see a health care provider. If it’s not possible that you could be pregnant, but it’s been a while since your last period, speak with a health care provider

Yes, you still have your regular periods after having your tubes tied (tubal ligation). The body just absorbs the unfertilized egg instead of it coming out in the menstrual flow.

No, you can’t. There may be some bleeding called ‘breakthrough bleeding’ or ‘spotting’ at the time the period would have been due.

Pregnancy can occur as soon as ovulation has started. A sign that ovulation has started is the onset of menstruation. On average, menstruation begins between 8 and 16 years.

The vagina gets quite stretched when a baby is born vaginally. However, it’s usually back to the size it was before by 6 to 8 weeks after the baby was born.

Drinking alcohol anytime during pregnancy can put the baby’s health at risk. Alcohol isn’t safe at any time during pregnancy. If a person drinks alcohol during pregnancy, the part of the baby that is developing at that time can be damaged (like the brain, eyes, ears, liver or kidneys).

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy puts a baby at risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Babies with FASD are born with birth defects and brain damage. The brain damage can affect both behaviour and thinking. There’s no cure for FASD and it doesn’t get better or go away.

A baby that doesn’t have FASD can still have fetal alcohol effect (FAE). This is a form of FASD but with fewer problems. There are no safe limits when it comes to drinking alcohol—don’t drink alcohol when you’re pregnant.

During pregnancy, the placenta and the umbilical cord connect mom and baby. Drugs can pass through the placenta to the developing baby. Drugs are used during pregnancy can also affect the baby.

Using illegal drugs (e.g., cocaine, heroin and marijuana) and misusing prescription drugs (e.g., Ritalin® and OxyContin®) during pregnancy can put the baby’s health at risk. Taking prescription medicine and over-the-counter (OTC) medicine when pregnant can cause serious health problems for the baby. The effects depend upon the type of drug the baby is exposed to.

Taking drugs during pregnancy puts the baby at risk for low birth weight, poor weight gain, developmental delays, withdrawal symptoms after birth (e.g., jittery, hyperactive, irritable) and possibly death. Never take any drugs or medicine when pregnant unless the doctor or pharmacist says it’s okay.

Gay is a word to describe people sexually or romantically attracted to people the same sex as they are. If a friend tells you they’re gay, it means they trust and care about you enough to share this part about who they are. It doesn’t change who they are or who you are. It also doesn’t mean that they have a crush on you if you happen to be the same sex. It can make the friendship stronger if you thank your friend for trusting and caring about you enough to tell you.


Gay is a word to describe people sexually or romantically attracted to people the same sex as they are. You don’t have to do anything. However, many people find it helps to learn more about what being gay means to them, so they might look for information and support.

Some people decide to ‘come out’ or tell people important to them that they’re gay. If a person needs support telling other people, or if they are worried that they might not be safe because of their identity, it’s important to speak with a trusted adult, like a counsellor at school.

For more information: LGBTQ Students: A guide for counsellors

Tranny is an offensive slang term to describe a person who is transgender. A person who is transgender is a different gender than their birth sex (e.g., a person with a penis who identifies as a woman). A pregnancy can happen anytime a penis or semen is in contact with the vaginal area. So yes, depending on their anatomy, people who are transgender can become pregnant.

Because everyone expresses and explores their sexuality differently, there isn’t one way that people have sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is anytime one person’s body touches another person’s genitals in a sexual way. This can include oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex or even hand sex.

Gay men don’t always get AIDS—this is a myth. HIV was first discovered in a population of men who have sex with men; however, that’s not where it started. Risky activities include unprotected sex, sharing needles and piercing/tattooing. Anyone who does these activities can get HIV/AIDS.

Semen is sticky because it has a sugar called fructose in it.

When breasts are growing, they change shape and size until they are fully developed. During this time, you may notice that one breast is bigger. Breasts usually even out as they develop, but if they end up being slightly different sizes that’s normal too.

The hymen is a fold of tissue inside the vagina that partially covers the opening. The hymen is usually there at birth, although people can also be born without a hymen. Hymens can be different shapes and sizes.

Impotent means that a person with a penis can’t get or keep an erection.

These words, like most anatomical and medical words come from Latin. Penis comes from the Latin word for tail, and vagina comes from the Latin word for a sheath or covering.

An orgasm is the physical sensation of sexual excitement resulting from stimulating the genitals.

Masturbation is touching and rubbing the genitals for pleasure. It’s a way people explore their bodies and learn about their sexual feelings.

Whether someone chooses to masturbate or not is a personal choice. The only time it might be a problem is when they’re masturbating so much that it interferes with developing healthy relationships or is affecting their everyday activities. While it’s normal and natural, it should be done in private.

Only you can decide when you are ready to have sexual intercourse. Whatever age you are when thinking about having sexual intercourse, it’s important to think about the possible consequences.

Ask yourself:

  • Why do I want to have sexual intercourse? Do I feel lonely? Am I being pressured? Do I love my partner?
  • Will my decision affect my moral, religious and family values? Will I feel guilty or bad afterwards if I have sexual intercourse?
  • How will I protect myself from pregnancy and STIs?
  • Do I trust my partner? Are they pressuring me? Are we close? Can we talk about safer sex and birth control?
  • If birth control fails, are we ready to deal with a pregnancy?

Talking to a parent or a supportive adult can help you decide if you’re ready to become sexually active.

Sometimes sexual intercourse is uncomfortable the first few times. Some people find using a lubricant helps. If you still have pain after the first few times, speak with a health care provider.

Yes.  You can get pregnant anytime you have sexual intercourse. Use a condom with a hormonal method of contraception such as the pill, patch and ring every time you have sex to help to protect against pregnancy and STIs.

Yes, pregnancy can occur the first time people have sexual intercourse. Using a condom every time you have intercourse combined with a hormonal method of contraception such as the pill, patch and ring will help to protect against pregnancy and STIs.

If you choose to have sex, the ‘dual method’ is the best protection from pregnancy and STIs. For example, this means using a male or vaginal (female) condom along with another method of birth control like the pill, patch or ring.

Never use two male condoms or a vaginal and a male condom at the same time, as the risk of both breaking goes up.

It’s okay to use the Pill for many years—there’s no need to take a break. Like any medicine, the Pill does have side effects so may not be the best choice for people with health concerns such as migraines, heart disease or who smoke.

Talking to a doctor or other health care provider about any health concern can be stressful. Writing down questions and concerns before the appointment can help. You can also ask an adult or friend you trust to come to the appointment.

Medical appointments and medical information are always confidential. If you’re worried about talking to your family doctor, you can make an appointment at a sexual and reproductive health clinic for birth control.

A pregnant person has 3 choices:

  • continue with the pregnancy and choose to parent
  • continue with the pregnancy and choose adoption
  • end the pregnancy by choosing an abortion

If you find yourself having to make this tough decision, talk to your parents, a supportive adult or go to a sexual and reproductive health clinic for support and non-judgemental information. It’s important that you fully understand all the choices you have when making this decision.

If there are no complications, a person should be able to become pregnant again after an abortion.

Many people with an STI have no symptoms. It’s important to know when to be tested. Have tests done regularly if you’re having sex with new partners or your partners have other sexual partners. Think about seeing your doctor or going to a sexual health clinic every 3 to 6 months to be tested. Speak with a doctor or nurse as soon as you can if you have any of the symptoms below:

  • discharge from the vagina, penis or anus
  • pain or discomfort when urinating (peeing)
  • pain during sex
  • new or different bleeding from the vagina
  • lumps or bumps on the genitals
  • pain in the scrotum or testicles
  • genital sores
  • genital itching
  • genital irritation or pain
  • rash on the genitals

Even if you notice just one symptom, get tested. If not treated, STIs can affect your health and fertility for the rest of your life.

Hepatitis is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. Different viruses cause the different kinds of hepatitis. The most common types of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B and C. People infected with hepatitis may have none, some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever
  • feeling tired
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • joint pain
  • the skin or the white part of the eyes turn yellow (jaundice)

Although they cause the same type of symptoms, how bad the disease is and how long it lasts is different for everyone. Each of these viruses spreads differently:

  • hepatitis A (hep A) is spread through contaminated food and water
  • hepatitis B (hep B) is spread through both blood and bodily fluids, such as semen and vaginal fluids
  • hepatitis C (hep C) is spread only through direct blood-to-blood contact, or through bodily fluids that contain blood

There’s a vaccine for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. In Alberta, the hep B vaccine is offered in Grade 5. There’s no vaccine for hep C.

About 9 out of every 10 people with hep B get better. About 7 or 8 out of every 10 people infected with hep C go on to develop a chronic or lifetime infection. With both hep B and C, the chronic infection can lead to a serious liver disease (cirrhosis) or cancer of the liver later in life.

Depending on the type of viral hepatitis, you can also reduce your risk of infection by:

  • washing your hands properly before and after preparing and eating food
  • practising safer sex
  • not sharing personal objects that may come into contact with blood (e.g., needles, razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers)

A virus is a kind of germ that’s so small even a regular microscope can’t see it. Viruses are the smallest and simplest of all germs, but they are also some of the deadliest. Different viruses cause different diseases. Vaccines can prevent some viruses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) caused by a virus (such as herpes and HIV) can’t be cured, but can be treated to help manage symptoms.

You can lower your risk of HPV by using condoms every time you have sexual intercourse. Remember though, that the virus may be on skin that’s not covered by a condom, so HPV can still be passed on even if condoms are used.

There is a vaccine that can help reduce the risk of getting HPV. In Alberta, the vaccine is available to females  9 to 45 years and males 9 to 26 years. The vaccine protects against 9 of the most common and harmful types of HPV. The vaccine works best when given before sexual activity begins, before there’s the chance of being exposed.

People who are sexually actually may still benefit from the HPV vaccine. This is because the vaccine may still protect them from the types of HPV they haven’t been exposed to. Alberta offers the HPV vaccine to students in Grade 5. The vaccine is also offered to students who haven’t had all three doses of the vaccine by the time they’re in Grade 9. The public health nurse gives three doses of the HPV vaccine in the arm over six months.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a virus that can lead to certain types of cancer. You can get HPV by having skin-to-skin contact with the genital area of an infected person.

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