Welcome to the Teenage Page of our website. This practice welcomes teenagers and wants to make them feel confident and comfortable about accessing the health services we offer. Many teenagers can speak with their parents about health concerns they may have but sometimes this doesn’t seem possible and there may be times when you want reliable information from a doctor or nurse and would rather discuss things on your own – this could be if you are feeling low or sad, worried, or need information or treatment that you just feel too embarrassed to talk about elsewhere. Here are some of the questions and issues that might be important.
Can I see a doctor or nurse on my own?- Yes– you do not need permission from your mum or dad to see the doctor/nurse on your own – even if you are under 16.
Will the doctor tell my parents what I have said to them and do I need permission from my parents to see the doctor? No – they will not even be told that you have been to the surgery. The doctor will want to be sure that you understand what is going on, and the implications of any treatments etc., and if he thinks you are in danger (if you are suffering from abuse) they may want to tell someone else for your safety – but this will always be talked over with you first.
What if I want information about contraception? This is fine – your parents will not be told about this. However, the doctor or nurse may discuss the advantages of YOU speaking to your mum or dad, but will leave this up to you.
How can I organise to see a doctor or nurse? You can either phone or call in at the surgery to make an appointment – but you should realise that you cannot usually see a doctor/nurse straight away unless it is urgent.
Things that may be bothering you
Bullying: It's a sad fact that bullying goes on – and can happen to anyone. No-one deserves to be bullied, harassed, hurt or tormented – bullying should not be ignored and can take many different forms: physical, verbal, via text messaging etc and it is important to try and recognise bullying as soon as it starts. Bullies attempt to make you feel afraid, guilty, ashamed or embarrassed – it is all part of their 'power game'. You need adult help to tackle bullying, maybe from a trusted parent, teacher or family friend – it is NOT wrong or weak to ask for help. These websites could help you start solving the problem:
Feeling low: There are times when we all can feel weighed down with all that life has to throw at us, and when the stresses of everyday life leave us feeling drained, anxious, nervous and unhappy. Depression is when these feelings continue for several weeks or more and may or may not be related to a specific difficulty you may be experiencing. Negative thoughts about others or yourself may build up and begin to affect your appetite, sleep pattern, relationships and body image. In the meantime, certain things may make these feelings worse: alcohol, irregular eating patterns; missing meals; eating too much sugary food; late nights; poor or disturbed sleep; lack of exercise; loneliness. It may help to talk confidentially with someone such as a counsellor or family doctor, and there are support groups about too.
Smoking: Of course everyone knows they shouldn’t start smoking, and when you're a puffed out fag-faced 40 year old you'll regret you ever picked one up. Smoking is seriously bad news for your health, and the problems just go on getting worse the longer you do it. As if the cancers, heart and lung disease that smoking causes isn’t enough, your skin, teeth, hair and breath will all suffer. If you already smoke then stop, there is plenty of confidential help available from the NHS. If you don't smoke yet then for goodness sake don't let anyone talk you into starting: you are the smart one who will live longer and be healthier and richer without this addiction to feed. We will be happy to see you for an appointment to discuss any aspects of smoking. Try http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/ or http://www.teenagehealthfreak.org/ for more information, or come and speak to us to see how we might be able to help.
Drugs and alcohol: These days drugs and alcohol are everywhere, and may not be that hard to get hold of. You may have already tried them, or have friends that use them and may be encouraging you to do the same. Knowing about alcohol and drugs and how they can affect you is important. Mostly they affect your mental state in a variety of ways; either to slowing you down or hyping you up – but one thing that will always be affected is your judgement [both in reading a situation and the intentions of others and in deciding how you should behave yourself]. It's no accident that when people reveal what in their own opinion was the most stupid or embarrassing thing they have ever done, drugs or alcohol was usually involved.
Danger signs of addiction and dependency: Needing a drink or drugs to relax or forget problems. Feeling or being defensive or angry when someone questions drinking or drug taking behaviour. Friends or teachers are concerned about behaviour changes or fall in work standards. If you need to know more, or just want to inform yourself- then try the sites below:
The community drug and alcohol service (CADS) for this area can be contacted on 01553 761623.
Contraception and Safer Sex
Although most older people feel that for teenagers having sex is not a good thing [and there are some good reasons for this, including getting pregnant, catching a sexually transmitted disease and wishing you hadn’t done it after all], the fact is that many teenagers are having sex. If you do decide to go ahead and start having sex, then knowing how to avoid the disasters of infection and pregnancy means you can reduce your risk. Come and speak to someone first so that you can plan to be safe.
Contraception: Deciding whether and when she wants to become pregnant is every young woman's right [and responsibility]. Contraception and education about how to use it is free to all women of any age in this country and appointments should be offered to you that are convenient and confidential. This could be at the medical centre here or at a family planning clinic (01553 769336 or 01366 383241), or maybe at school health clinics. The advice and help is there so don't be afraid to ask for it. Young men can get free condoms at family planning clinics but they are not always available at GP surgeries.
Popular myths exploded: 'I've only had sex once- you can't get pregnant the first time'- rubbish. 'He didn't come inside me'- sorry, you can't depend on that: some semen leaks occur before ejaculation. 'We use the withdrawal method' the description of a woman relying on this method is “pregnant” You absolutely cannot depend on this method to protect you. 'It's a safe time of the month' – don't depend on it if it doesn't come in a packet!
Emergency contraception (what used to be known as the morning after pill) can prevent an unwanted pregnancy if your contraception has failed (split condom) or you haven't used any – it cannot replace the reliability of using regular contraception. And unless it was an absolute one-off scenario please organise regular contraception if you will be needing it regularly. The emergency pill can be taken up to 72 hours after the event but is best taken as soon as possible- it can be supplied from the medical centre, a family planning clinic, the A+E department of a hospital or can be bought from a chemist. Rarely an alternative could be to discuss having an emergency coil fitted.
Safer sex : or how not to catch a sexually transmitted disease [STD]. In men STDs often in the form of inflammation in the penis called urethritis and in women they are called pelvic inflammatory disease [or PID for short]. You may have heard about chlamydia, and probably have some idea what HIV/AIDS is- but what do you know about Gonorrhoea? Did you know that the rate of Syphilis infections is rising again? How are YOU going to protect yourself? The complications of PID in women [especially if it goes undiagnosed and isn't treated] include fertility problems later on, and ectopic pregnancy [pregnancy starting in your tubes rather than the uterus -this can be fatal]. Early diagnosis and proper treatment of these infections drastically reduces the likelihood of later problems. Of course prevention is far better than cure so always make sure you use condoms as well, whatever other sort of contraception you may use. You can get an appointment at the GUM clinic if you are worried (genito-urinary medicine clinic) at the Queen Elizabeth hospital by telephoning 01553 613766 – you don’t need a doctor’s referral and again the service is confidential. More information is available from:
Other useful sites: