Going off to college is a big step for a young woman. She will be making more decisions on her own, including many things that can affect her health. You may know that some health risks are unfortunately common, such as college weight gain (a.k.a. “the freshman 15”), not getting enough sleep, and social pressures to drink, do drugs, or engage in sexual activity.
But preparing for these challenges is a great way to help college girls take charge of their own health. Whether it’s your daughter or you’re looking for advice for yourself as you embark on this new chapter in life, there are some ways college girls can stay healthy and avoid risky behavior.
- Emphasize being active. The benefits of exercise are numerous. Not only can it help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, but it can help fight mild to moderate depression and alleviate stress — both of which can be problems for girls at this stage of life. College students frequently juggle pressure to do well in classes, the stress of a new place and new people, and a packed schedule. Whether you choose to go to the campus fitness center or takes walks, regular physical activity can help improve your physical and mental health — and may even help boost your grades.
- Focus on fruits, veggies, lean protein, and whole grains — and save the junk food for occasional treats. Late-night pizza runs, unlimited cafeteria food, and easy access to fast-food can mean too many calories and weight gain for college kids — not to mention sluggish energy and poor concentration. TheChooseMyPlate website has resources specifically for college students to encourage and educate them about healthy eating.
- Talk about safe sex. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are alarmingly common in young adults, but teaching them to use a latex condom every time can help protect them from these diseases. Many STDs have lasting health effects, including pelvic inflammatory disease, cancer, and infertility. Some, like AIDS, are fatal. Making the effort to talk about this difficult topic is worth it.
- Be smart about drinking. Alcohol can impair judgment, leading to risky behavior, and binge drinking is harmful and even fatal in some cases. College students, in particular, should be mindful of how much they drink to avoid potentially dangerous situations like sexual assault.
- Get up to date on vaccines. It’s important for college girls to get certain vaccines, which may include HPV, meningitis, Tdap, and seasonal flu.
Finally, make sure your college student gets regular well visits from either the campus health center or her physician at home. These visits can be an excellent time to talk about these and other health topics, and can screen for illness.
CarePoint Health Gynecology
With the help of a skilled gynecologist at CarePoint Health, you can make educated decisions about your health to be at your best at any stage of life. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.