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11.78: Reproductive System Health

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    What protective equipment do these boys need?

    Along with shin guards, a protective cup is useful in preventing injuries. A kicked ball or kick to the groin can really hurt. Wearing a protective cup also prevents a potentially serious injury to the testes.

    Keeping the Reproductive System Healthy

    As was discussed in previous concepts, both infectious and noninfectious diseases of the reproductive system can be very serious. But there are ways to keep your reproductive system healthy. What can you do to keep your reproductive system healthy? You can start by making the right choices for overall good health. To be as healthy as you can be, you should:

    • Eat a balanced diet that is high in fiber and low in fat.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Get regular exercise.
    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • Get enough sleep.
    • Avoid using tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs.
    • Manage stress in healthy ways.

    Keeping your genitals clean is also very important. A daily shower or bath is all that it takes. Females do not need to use special feminine hygiene products. In fact, using them may do more harm than good because they can irritate the vagina or other reproductive structures.

    You should also avoid other behaviors that can put you at risk. Do not get into contact with another person’s blood or other body fluids. For example, never get a tattoo or piercing unless you are sure that the needles have not been used before. This is one of the most important ways to prevent an STI. Of course, the only way to be fully protected against STIs is to refrain from sexual activity.

    If you are a boy, you should always wear a protective cup when you play contact sports. Contact sports include football, boxing, and hockey. Wearing a cup will help protect the testes from injury. You should also do a monthly self-exam to check for cancer of the testes.

    If you are a girl and use tampons, be sure to change them every four to six hours. Leaving tampons in for too long can put you at risk of toxic shock syndrome. This is a serious condition. Signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome develop suddenly, and the disease can be fatal. The disease involves fever, shock, and problems with the function of several body organs.

    Girls should also get in the habit of doing a monthly self-exam to check for breast cancer. Although breast cancer is rare in teens, it's a good idea to start doing the exam when you are young. It will help you get to know what is normal for you.


    • To keep the reproductive system healthy, keep the genitals clean and avoid coming into contact with body fluids, like blood or semen.
    • To check for cancer, women should perform monthly self-exams of their breasts, and men should perform monthly self-exams of their testes.


    1. What is the purpose of a monthly self-exam of the testes?
    2. Explain how girls can reduce their risk of developing toxic shock syndrome.
    3. What is the purpose of a monthly self-exam of the breasts?

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