Questions & Answers

Have a question? See if you can find an answer here!

This is the start of an expanding list
Questions About Menstruation & the Menstrual Cycle

What causes menstruation in girls?

- Wendy, 13

Answer

Menstruation is caused by the shedding of the inner uterine lining approximately two weeks after ovulation. Ovulation is the process by which an ovary releases an egg, and typically occurs two weeks before a woman’s next period would take place. If the egg is not fertilized, it is shed off by the body as menstrual blood due to withdrawal of the hormones that otherwise, if present, could sustain the egg.

Every woman's menses is different and can change throughout her lifetime. In general, a woman will experience her period every 25-30 days, but it is also normal to see your period every 21-35 days. Menstruation typically lasts from 5-7 days. Some days it will be a “heavy flow,” with more blood leaving your body. Other days will be a “lighter flow,” when less blood will trickle out. Some menstrual fluid, made up of blood and other tissue, can be red, while other times it can be pink, darker red, brown, or black.

To learn more, visit our Menstruation & Ovulation page. 

Why is the timing of period (menstruation) not always constant?

- Abigail, 19

Answer

In general, women will menstruate (or get their period) every 28 days on average, but it is also normal to see your period every 21-35 days. In adolescents, menstruation can be pretty unpredictable and may not come every month. But as you get older, your menses tend to become more regular and easier to predict, whether it comes every 21 days, every 28 days, or every 35 days.

If you think you may be pregnant or are worried about changes in your menstrual cycle, find a health centre and talk with a healthcare provider

Why do we have pain during menstruation and what is the solution?

- Ayomide, 14

Answer

During menstruation your uterus contracts — cramps up — to help the lining separate and leave the body. Most women have menstrual cramps at some point during their lives. Menstrual cramps can be dull or throbbing pains in your lower abdomen, back, or stomach area.

There are many ways to help lessen the pain you feel during your menstrual flow, including taking a warm bath and soaking your tummy. Tea and warm drinks might also help to ease off the cramps, as would a heating pad. You can also try taking some Paracetamol or Felvin to help relieve the symptoms of cramps.  If your cramps are too uncomfortable, you can speak to a healthcare provider who can provide some solutions.

Is it safe and proper to have sex during one's period?

- Enora, 20

Answer

It is perfectly fine and healthy to have sex during a woman’s menstruation. There is nothing dirty or unclean about menstruation. Menstrual fluid itself is not infectious, and it does not cause disease or sickness. Many women today enjoy their periods as a proud reminder of their femininity. And many women and men have found that they can enjoy their sexuality and express themselves sexually during menstruation.

You should make sure to discuss having sex during menstruation with your partner to make sure you are both comfortable with it. It is also a good idea to put down a towel so you do not stain your bedding because having sex during menstruation can be a bit more messy.

Also remember that you can get pregnant or be exposed to STDs/HIV any time you have sex - even during menstruation. So you should always use a condom or other form of family planning / contraceptive method when having sex.

Learn more about Condoms & Contraceptives and how to they can help protect you from pregnancy and STDs/HIV.

Questions About Body Changes & Puberty

At what age are girls supposed to grow breasts? How can I make my breasts bigger/smaller?

- Mena, 16

Answer

Some girls may begin to develop breast “buds” from 8 years. Breasts come in endless shapes, sizes, and colors. There is no way to predict how big or small your breasts will be, and there is no way to know how long it will take your breasts to fully develop. On average, it takes about 4-5 years for your breasts to fully develop into their adult size.

A woman’s breast size is in her DNA - that means she is born with a predetermined size, and it cannot be changed with injections, medicines, vitamins, or special foods.

Why do girls begin to get attention from men at puberty?

- Kebe, 13

Answer

It is a normal, natural thing. Especially because, at puberty,  girls are emerging into beautiful young ladies. Attention is a good thing but it must be controlled and responsible. Girls must also learn to manage their response to the attention and be careful about how they handle it.

What causes wet armpit? Is it the hair or other things? Is it healthy to shave the hairs off?

- Adunola, 13

Answer

During puberty, the human body begins producing more hormones in order to support and control the body’s growth! One consequence is that you may find yourself sweating more than normal, and the sweat is likely accompanied by new, stronger odours. Your armpits, feet and genital areas, behind your ears and your belly-button is where you will sweat most. Visit Personal Hygiene Tips for more info!

Why do I always have pimples breaking out these days?

- Grace, 15

Answer

During this stage of your life, the hormones in your body are trying to get you into young adulthood. You know--the fine boy or fine girl stage *wink, wink*. Things like pimples will come up. Some are usually temporary while others take longer, but they usually go away after some time. Keeping your face clean by washing every day usually helps. By all means, avoid picking or popping your pimples--you don’t want to end up with an unsightly scar!

Why must all men grow beards?

- Sam, 12

Answer

As young boys grow older, hormones are created in their bodies that results into the development of some male features. This stage is referred to as Puberty. The male hormones are responsible for beards, shoulder enlargement, a deeper voice, and other changes. This hormone is what differentiates the appearance of males from females. Beards are not so bad; they can actually be groomed to make men look really cool.

What is a wet dream? Are they normal?

- Chike, 13

Answer

Experiencing a release of sperm while you sleep (sometimes called a wet dream) is completely normal. A wet dream happens when a boy becomes sexually aroused while he is asleep and releases semen. Wet dreams are not something to be embarrassed about; they are natural and happen to lots of boys! You are not alone and it certainly does not mean that you have been bad.

Visit Boys Puberty to learn more about wet dreams and other body changes you may experience. 

Is it true that masturbation is bad and unhealthy?

- Emmanuel, 13

Answer

It is perfectly healthy and safe to masturbate. There is no chance of getting pregnant or contracting a Sexually Transmitted Disease from masturbation. And do not worry, masturbation cannot make you blind, crazy, or stupid. It cannot damage your body or stunt your growth. In fact, masturbation can actually be good for you - it can help you to relax, reduce stress, and learn what feels good for your body.

The only potential risk of masturbation is slight skin irritation, but using lubrication will keep that from happening. Read more about masturbation

Questions About Virginity

How can I tell if someone is a virgin?

- Jeremiah, 19

Answer

A virgin is someone who has never had sex.  The only way to know for sure if someone is a virgin is to ask him or her. Not even an examination by a doctor can confirm if a someone has had sex.

Many people believe that a woman’s hymen is an indicator of whether she has had sex or not.  The hymen is a thin membrane of skin that surrounds or partially covers the opening to the vagina. During sexual intercourse the hymen can sometimes break and tear, causing some pain and light bleeding, but many girls don't have this happen at all. The hymen can also break through other means such as vigorous sports like bike riding or gymnastics, using tampons, or just growth and development of her body.

How can I abstain from sex?

- Ibekwe, 15

Answer

Abstaining from sex is a choice and decision you make every day. Focus on your reasons and the advantages of abstinence. Remember you are fully in charge and control of your body. Try to stay away from compromising situations and if you are in a relationship, talk to your partner clearly about your sexual decision. Read more about Abstinence.

Questions About Having Sex for the First Time

Is it true that everyone bleeds the first time they have sex?

- Abidemi, 12

Answer

Some women have pain and bleeding the first time they have vaginal sex (penis-in-vagina) or when a finger is inserted into their vagina. The blood usually comes from the breaking of the thin piece of skin (hymen) that covers the vagina and may tear when a woman has sex for the first time. For some ladies the hymen may break even though they have not had sex. This may be caused by strenuous sporting activities or other reasons, such as the use of a tampon. As a result, bleeding is not a good indicator of virginity or whether a woman is having sex for the first time or not. 

For guys, first time sex will not hurt but they must learn to be gentle and patient with their partners so that their time together may be worth it.

Vaginal sex shouldn't be painful for either the male or the female unless there is too much friction (which you can fix by using lubrication), or if one partner is unhealthy. If you are experiencing pain during sex, it's a good idea to make an appointment with a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider to check it out. Find a Health Centre near you.

Is it true that having sex will make my penis bigger?

- Zaki, 13

Answer

Hmm...No. Not at all. Sex cannot make your penis bigger. Penises do become larger when blood flows into them during sexual excitement or stimulation. This is called an erection. After sex, blood flows away from the penis and it becomes soft or flaccid and returns back to its original size.

Can a girl get pregnant or contract diseases the first time she has sex?

- Mary, 17

Answer

Yes, a girl can become pregnant the first time she has sex. Anytime a girl has vaginal sex with a guy, she is at risk for becoming pregnant. Even if a guy ejaculates outside of but near a girl's vagina or pulls out before he comes, a girl can get pregnant.

It's also possible to get a sexually transmitted disease (STD) anytime you have sex, including the first time. Actually, whenever people have any kind of sexual contact (oral, anal, or vaginal) they run the risk of getting an STD.

The use of condoms can protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Learn more about Condoms & Contraceptives!

Questions About Starting a Relationship

At what age is it appropriate to have a girlfriend or boyfriend?

- Joseph, 13

Answer

The decision to be in a relationship is one that only you can make - regardless of the pressure you may receive from your friends.  It is not necessary to have a boyfriend regardless of what age you are.

I am aged 14 and my friends advise me to have a boyfriend. Are they right?

- Esther, 14

Answer

Special boy friends are not necessary. You can be just friendly with people. Their interpretation of boyfriend may mean more than you think. You need more attention for your academics. There is appropriate time for everything.

As I grow older, how can I tell if a guy is good and responsible?

- Rose, 16

Answer

Romantic or sexual relationships are one way to connect and share with other people. Communication, equality and respect are the keys to building a healthy relationship. The following questions may help you think about whether a guy is good and responsible:

  1. Is he respectful of his friend and family? He should be!
  2. Does he care about you as much you care for him?
  3. Can he take care of himself and pay his own bills? He should be able to.
  4. Does he have life goals and aspirations that you admire?
  5. Are his habits healthy and legal?

Above, all you and your lifestyle should be compatible with his.

Questions About Love, Sex & Relationships
My boyfriend is pressuring me to have sex--what should I do?

- Idowu, 16

Answer

It is perfectly sensible and natural to ask yourself that question. Sex has a lot to do with trust and responsibility, so being open with your partner about sex is very essential. Above all, remember that you--and only you--get to decide when you are ready to have sex. No one who truly cares about you should pressure you to do something that you are not comfortable with.

If you decide you are ready, be sure to be crystal clear with your partner about how you are going to protect yourselves against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy that you do not want or that you are not prepared for.

Learn how to prevent or delay pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases using Condoms & Contraceptives

At age 18 years I feel the urge to have sex with my girlfriend whom I love so much. What do I do?

- Nnanna, 18

Answer

The urge is normal. However, you have control over your urges and you should exercise it. Sex comes with responsibilities and you want to be sure you are ready for those responsibilities. Consider the dangers of teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and sexually transmitted diseases. Sex may also affect or change the academic pursuit of the girl you think you love and might distort yours too.

If you eventually choose to have sex, know your safe sex/family planning options and choose the most suitable one for yourself and guide your partner to do the same. You can learn all about the methods of contraceptives that are available by visiting our Condoms & Contraceptives page.

Finally, you can always talk to a healthcare provider.

Is sex in a relationship compulsory?

- Michael, 20

Answer

Romantic or sexual relationships are one way to connect and share with other people. And romantic or sexual relationships often play an important role in our overall health and well-being.

However, Sex is never compulsory and should always be a conversation between both people. No one that truly respects you will pressure you to do something you are not comfortable with.

How do I know if my boyfriend or girlfriend loves me?

- Debare, 17

Answer

Figuring out how to tell if someone loves you can be tricky. If they haven't said as much yet, you might be feeling rather itchy with anticipation. If they have said so, some people don't trust just the words, and constantly analyze their partner's words and gestures to decide for themselves if it is really love or not. Our tips can help you create and maintain a healthy relationship, and might help you decide if what you have is true love.

Read more about Qualities of Good Relationships

Can love really exist between teenagers or is it always just fantasy?

- Kemi, 14

Answer

Love is quite possible between teenagers and some are lucky to even marry their teenage love interests. However, not all teenage relationship end up in marriage. Teenagers may need to allow themselves grow and mature before they fall in love so they can be sure about what they really want in a relationship and that what they feel is actually love.  Learn more about healthy relationships.

Is it possible for a long distance relationship to last?

- Arah, 21

Answer

Many people believe that long distance relationships are too difficult to last. And while they can be difficult, and at times lonely, they can be filled with love and commitment. Some things to keep in mind to get you through the tough times include: Set some ground rules so that both of you know what to expect; Communicate regularly and creatively: maybe one week you only text each other, then the next week you only communicate via phone; enjoy your time alone with your friends and family; and always remember that challenges can bring couples together and strengthen their bond.

Why do girls dump boys for older men just because of money?

- Paul, 18

Answer

Many factors are involved. Environmental factors, financial factors, taste, interest, maturity, experience, level of education and so on. People should not be judged for the choices that they make. Some girls may even be forced to make such choices. The important thing is to try to understand them and respect their decisions.

Questions About Preventing Pregnancy

When is a good time to start using contraceptives?

- Esther, 18

Answer

As soon as possible in a sexually active female or male who cannot practice abstinence. After giving birth, some methods like the IUD may be used immediately. Others, like the pill, can be taken from 6 weeks after delivery. Learn more about all the methods of birth control available to you by visiting our Condoms and Contraceptives page.

Does using birth control cause infertility?

- Aniyan, 20

Answer

No. There is no scientific evidence that birth control pills cause infertility or damage to the womb or other reproductive organs. People have used different types of family planning or contraceptive methods for thousands of years. Today, we have many safe and effective methods available to us - learn more by visiting our Condoms and Contraceptives page!

Can single people use contraceptives?

- Blessing, 19

Answer

Single or Married, Divorced or Widowed, anyone can use contraceptives safely. Learn more about the Contraceptive methods available to you.

Questions About Getting & Being Pregnant

What should I do if I think I am pregnant?

- Orisa, 16

Answer

If you think you could be pregnant, you can take a pregnancy test in order to know for certain. Pregnancy tests can be conducted at home with a test that is purchased at a pharmacy or done at a health centre. If you take a pregnancy test at home and it is positive (indicating that you are pregnant) you should make an appointment at a health centre in order to confirm your pregnancy and speak to a doctor who can check your health and answer all your questions.

Visit Find a Health Centre to find a healthcare provider near you. 

Can a girl get pregnant if a boy touches her?

- Jayesimi, 13

Answer

No. Pregnancy is caused by sexual intercourse, not touching.

Learn more by visiting our Myths and Questions about Sex page or learn about How to Get Pregnant.

What are the signs and symptoms of pregnancy?

- Ikem, 20

Answer

A missed period is the first sign of pregnancy for most women. During this early stage, you may have signs like fatigue (you get tired easily), a feeling of being overfilled, having to urinate many times, constipation, mood changes, nausea-(feeling like throwing up), and sensitive and slightly enlarged breasts.

Not every woman will have these symptoms, in fact some may not even be aware of their new changes in their bodies until later but it is expected that women should notice at least one of these signs and symptoms at the early stage of pregnancy. To learn more about these symptoms visit our How to Get Pregnant.

The surest way to be certain is to take a simple pregnancy test at a health centre - Find a Health Centre near you

Questions about STDs & HIV/AIDS

How do I know if I have a Sexually Transmitted Disease?  What are the symptoms to watch out for?

- Omotolani, 15

Answer

STIs often have no signs or symptoms, which means that you can feel healthy and have no tell-tale signs but still be infected. Even with no symptoms, however, you can pass the infection to your sex partners. So it's important to use protection, such as a condom, during sex.

Some common symptoms of STDs can include: Sores or wounds, rashes, bumps or raised skin/lesions or blisters on the mouth or genital; feeling of hotness or painful urination or pain in your vagina/penis; swollen penis, scrotum/testicles, vagina area or mouth;uUnusual discharge, serious itching or bad smell from the vagina; pain in your lower stomach area; bleeding or pain during or after sex

To learn more, visit Do I have an STD?

How do I know if I need to get an STD test?

- Hassan, 18

Answer

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) are passed primarily through sexual intercourse but can also be passed by other means. If you are sexually active, you should make getting tested your way of life. And just because you do not have any symptoms does not mean you are okay. Many STDs do not show any symptoms, so you have to be really careful if you do not want to catch and/or transmit them.

Find a Health Centre where you can get a STD test.

How is HIV/AIDS passed from person to person?

- Aduba, 15

Answer

HIV can be transmitted by the exchange of certain fluid from the body of an HIV-infected person to another person. These body fluids are: Blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk. HIV can be spread by having unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive; passed from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding; and receiving blood transfusions that are contaminated with HIV.

Learn more about HIV/AIDS

How do I know if someone is infected with HIV?

- Olabisi, 21

Answer

HIV does not show on the face and most times there are no visible symptoms. It is impossible to know if a someone is infected with HIV by merely looking at him or her. The only way to tell if a person has HIV is through an HIV Antibody test, which detects the presence of antibodies produced by the body in response to the HIV virus. HIV tests are available at Health Centres, and you can learn more by visiting our HIV/AIDS page.

Questions about Rape & Sexual Violence

What should I do if I have been raped?

- Eya, 16

Answer

It’s important to remember that Rape is never the survivor’s fault. In fact, t is never your fault if someone decides to hurt you. Rape survivors often can feel a significant degree of physical and emotional pain and trauma, both during and after the assault. Sometimes, dealing with the emotional trauma of rape takes a long time. It might help to talk to a counselor about what happened (no matter how long ago it might have happened), seek the support of family and friends, read about rape, or journal about what happened. Remember that it will take different people different amounts of time to feel better -- be patient and give yourself the time you need to heal.  

Learn more about Rape.

When a person is raped, can they contract diseases?

- Hassana, 14

Answer

Yes. Anytime someone has unprotected sex it is possible for them to contract or transmit sexually transmitted diseases. If you are worried that you may have a disease as a result of a rape or otherwise, visiting a healthcare provider is a good first step towards diagnosis and/or treatment.  

Can a man be raped?

- Gideon, 16

Answer

Women are not the only ones who can be raped. Men and children can be victims as well. A rapist does not always have to be a man.

Read more about Rape. 

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