Adolescence and Reproductive Health


This Topic gives an overview of;

  • Reproductive Health
  • Nutritional Needs of the Adolescents
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Physical exercise
  • Adolescent Pregnancy

Reproductive Health

The physical and mental well being of an individual is regarded as an individual’s health. To keep the body healthy, every human being, at any age, needs to have a balanced diet. The person must also observe personal hygiene and undertake adequate physical exercise. During adolescence, however, these become even more essential as the body is growing.

Nutritional Needs of the Adolescents

Adolescence is a stage of rapid growth and development. Hence the diet for an adolescent has to be carefully planned. You have already learnt what a balanced diet is. Recall that a balanced diet means that the meals include proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins in requisite proportions. Our Indian meal of roti/rice, dal (pulses) and vegetables is a balanced meal. Milk is a balanced food in itself. Fruits also provide nourishment. For infants, mother’s milk provides all the nourishment that they need.

Iron builds blood and iron-rich food such as leafy vegetables, jaggery, meat, citrus, Indian gooseberry (amla) are good for adolescents.

Check items for lunch and dinner in your meal. Is the meal balanced and nutritious? Does it include cereals which give energy and milk, meat, nuts and pulses which provide proteins for growth? Also, does it include fats and sugar that give energy? What about fruits and vegetables which are protective foods? Chips and packed or tinned snacks, though very tasty should never replace regular meals as they do not have adequate nutritional value.

Make a group with your friends. Write down the items of food in your breakfast, lunch and dinner you had on the previous day. Identify the items responsible for proper growth. Also identified the junk food that you consumed the previous day.

Personal Hygiene

Everyone should have a bath at least once everyday. It is more necessary for teenagers because the increased activity of sweat glands sometimes makes the body smelly. All parts of the body should be washed and cleaned everyday. If cleanliness is not maintained there are chances of catching bacterial infection. Girls should take special care of cleanliness during the time of menstrual flow. They should keep track of their menstrual cycle and be prepared for the onset of menstruation.

Physical exercise

Walking and playing in fresh air keeps the body fit and healthy. All young boys and girls should take walks, exercise and play outdoor games.

Myths, Taboos, Do's and Don'ts

You have learnt here and from Chapter 9 the scientific facts related to human reproduction. There are many wrong notions which you should now be able to discard as informed adolescents. For example, there are myths and taboos regarding bodily changes that adolescents experience. Some of these are given below and you can now argue why these are myths and not facts

  1. A girl becomes pregnant if she looks at boys during menstruation.
  2. The mother is responsible for the sex of her child.
  3. A girl should not be allowed to work in the kitchen during menstruation.

You may come across many other myths and taboos. Discard them.

Adolescent Pregnancy

You might be knowing that in our country, the legal age for marriage is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys. This is because teenage mothers are not prepared mentally or physically for motherhood. Early marriage and motherhood cause health problems in the mother and the child. It also curtails employment opportunities for the young woman and may cause mental agony as she is not ready for responsibilities of motherhood.

Say NO to Drugs

Adolescence is a period of much activity in the body and mind which is a normal part of growing up. So do not feel confused or insecure. If anybody suggests that you will get relief if you take some drugs, just say ‘No’ unless prescribed by the doctor. Drugs are addictive. If you take them once, you feel like taking them again and again. They harm the body in the long run. They ruin health and happiness.

You must have heard about AIDS which is caused by a dangerous virus, HIV. This virus can pass on to a normal person from an infected person by sharing the syringes used for injecting drugs. It can also be transmitted to an infant from the infected mother through her milk. The virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact with a person infected with HIV. 


  • A balanced diet contains nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water in the right proportions.
  • Healthy foods have more nutritional value, whereas junk foods have no or little nutritional value. 
  • It is important to eat balanced food and maintain personal hygiene during adolescence.Physical exercise keeps your body fit and healthy.
  • Sweating helps you to release toxins and wastes from your body.
  • AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV. AIDS can be transmitted from an infected person to a healthy person by sharing syringes used for injecting drugs


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