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Teens and young adults
Teens and young adults face many emotional and physical changes. How young men deal with these changes can affect their health — both now and in the future. Young men need to make choices in many areas, from drugs to sex and from driving to doctor's visits. Smart choices matter. They can help young men feel strong, look good, and achieve their goals in school, sports, and more.
Check out some ways to develop a lifetime of good habits:
- Stay away from drugs and alcohol. They can hurt your mind, body, and relationships. Remember that drinking or doing drugs can lead to risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex. And using muscle-building drugs like anabolic steroids can be dangerous, too.
- Drive safely. In the U.S., motor vehicle accidents are the leading killer of 15- to 24-year-old males. Always wear a seatbelt and follow road rules. Never drive after drinking or doing drugs, and don't ride with an impaired driver.
- Avoid violence. Nearly 4 out of 10 high school boys in the U.S. said they fought in the past year. Try to stay away from dangerous situations, and learn positive ways to deal with conflict.
- Don't smoke. Smoking affects every part of your body, your looks, and your athletic ability — and it is highly addictive. Don't light up, and try to avoid other people's smoke. Also, remember that smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes aren't safe either.
- Exercise and eat well. The number of overweight teens in the U.S. has more than tripled in the past 20 years. Overweight teens are at risk for serious health problems, including diabetes. Exercise and good nutrition can help you stay a healthy weight — and help you stay strong in many ways.
- Take care of your sexual health. Almost half of new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) reported each year are among 15- to 24-year-olds. A person can have an STI and not know. If you are having sex, use condoms every time. You might also consider getting the HPV vaccine, which helps protect against genital warts and anal cancer.
- Visit the doctor. Make sure to schedule routine checkups so your doctor can find any problems early. Check-ups also are a chance to ask questions, review healthy habits, and discuss any personal problems. Stay up to date on any vaccines you need. Ask if you need to get vaccinated for meningitis if you're heading off to a college dorm for the first time.
- Take care of your mental health. Many mental health problems first develop in the teen and young adult years — and suicide is a leading cause of death among young men. Treatment works well, so get help as soon as possible.
- Watch out for environmental health risks. Make sure your home is tested for radon and has a carbon monoxide detector. If you work with chemicals, wear the right safety gear. Apply sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn. Find out if your tap water has lead in it and, if so, learn ways to reduce your risk from it. And don't forget to protect your ears from noise pollution by turning your music down.
If you are a teen or young adult male, you can use the resources below to learn more about taking care of your health and making smart choices.
If you are a parent or parent figure to a teen boy, your presence really matters. Teen boys need your love, guidance, and support each day to help them become healthy, confident, and capable. Build a relationship with the young men in your life that includes trust, honesty, setting limits, and open lines of communication.
Explore other publications and websites
AcneNet (Copyright © American Academy of Dermatology) — This site provides information on acne, including acne treatment, acne scarring, the social impact of acne, and when to see a dermatologist.
Environmental Health Topics — This resource lists conditions that may be linked to things in the environment. It lists chemicals and other factors in the environment that may hurt health.
Health Guides by Topic (Copyright © Young Men's Health) — This Web page features a list of health guides for young men on topics such as working out, dating, puberty, and depression.
Healthy Youth! Sexual Risk Behaviors — This fact sheet provides statistics on young adults' sexual behaviors, including how often they practice safe sex, what percentage have a sexually transmitted infection, and how many are infected with HIV. There are also resources for state and local programs listed on the website for further information on priority health risks among youth.
Hygiene Basics (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This fact sheet provides information about what body changes you can expect when going through puberty and how you can deal with them. Topics include oily skin, sweat, and body hair.
Kids Online (Copyright © Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International) — Connect with other teens who have diabetes on this website. You can find out more information about diabetes and what you can do to raise awareness about the disease.
Learn the Issues — Learn about how the air, water, and climate affect your health on this website.
Male Reproductive System (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This publication provides an overview of the male reproductive system. A brief description of the function of the organs is provided as well as information on disorders of the male reproductive system.
Staying Safe (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This website offers publications on teen driving safety and safety basics. Find out what you can do to protect you and your family.
Take Charge of Your Health: A Teenager's Guide to Better Health — This booklet explains the importance of better health for teenagers. It gives tips on how to stay active and eat healthy.
Teen Q & A: Health Care for College Students (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics) — This fact sheet discusses some common illnesses and infections that spread on college campuses. It provides information on how to avoid them and how to take care of yourself if you get sick.
Testicular Injuries (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This publication provides information about testicular injuries, how they happen, and how to prevent them.
Tinea Infections: Athlete's Foot, Jock Itch and Ringworm (Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians) — This fact sheet explains about the tinea fungus, how it becomes infectious, how to get rid of it, and how to prevent the infections from occurring.
Tips for Teens With Diabetes: What Is Diabetes? — This collection of tip sheets provides useful information about diabetes and encourages teens to take action to manage their disease for a long and healthy life.
Where You Live: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — Use this database to learn more about environmental conditions in your community.
Connect with other organizations
Advocates for Youth
American Academy of Pediatrics
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, HHS
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS
Task Force on College Drinking, NIAAA, NIH
Young Men's Health
Content last updated January 10, 2011.
Resources last updated January 10, 2011.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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