Monday 20 February 2017

Marla Ahlgrimm: Issues to Discuss with Teen Girls

Marla Ahlgrimm
Women’s health expert Marla Ahlgrimm says the unique needs of women are often overlooked until there’s an issue. She believes that much of this ‘body neglect’ could be circumvented if parents made a point to have open and honest talks with their young daughters. In the following brief conversation, Marla Ahlgrimm covers a few key topics that will help teenage girls feel more comfortable about themselves and their healthcare needs.

Q: Why is teaching a girl to respect and express her feelings important to overall health?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Girls are often conditioned to value happiness above everything else. This can lead to suppressed feelings or the inability to openly acknowledge other emotions. Women who are better able to understand their feelings will likely experience less stress and therefore fewer stress-related health concerns.

Q: When should parents discuss sex with their daughters?

Marla Ahlgrimm: It is never too early to help a young girl feel confident and capable where her body is concerned. Starting in toddlerhood, parents can begin to plant seeds of understanding consent, teaching a girl that her body is hers alone. This could be something as simple as assuring her that she doesn’t have to hug relatives who she may not be comfortable with. In a world of reality television and filtered selfies, girls often view themselves as nothing more than objects of desire. When they are comfortable in their own skin and able to take control of their own bodies, girls develop a higher level of emotional health.

Q: At what age should a girl first visit the gynecologist?

Marla Ahlgrimm: The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggest girls receive their first exam between the ages of 13 and 15. This typically will not include a full Pap smear or internal examination of the girl’s reproductive system. Mothers can make this a less intimidating experience by reassuring their daughters there’s nothing to be afraid of and that this is simply one step toward womanhood.


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