Preteen Girls’ Health: A Conversation with a Physician and a Psychologist

If you couldn’t attend the October 25 Preteen Alliance luncheon about girls’ health, here are some highlights:

  • It’s crucial for parents to talk with preteen girls about sexual issues, so that they develop healthful habits later in life; and
  • The HPV vaccine, which recently was recommended for preteen girls starting at age 9 to help prevent cervical cancer, is an important — and safe – vaccination, even at that young age.

These were among the key points made by two experts from Kaiser San Jose — Dr. Bryna Barsky-Ex, a psychologist and sex therapist in the psychiatry and OB/GYN departments, and Dr. Seham El-Diwany, a pediatrician with more than 20 years experience.

Dr. El-Diwany noted that the human papillomaviruses (HPV) vaccine is not as effective after the onset of sexual activity – which is why it is recommended at such a young age. She also explained how the vaccine works, and showed how it’s not possible for preteen girls to acquire the virus from the vaccination.

Dr. Barsky-Ex talked frankly about the importance of discussing sexuality with preteens as early as possible, and explained the various ways that the home environment can have a strong influence on an individual’s lifelong sexual attitudes and well-being. Without good information, said Dr. Barsky-Ex, preteen girls are more likely to believe the sexual myths they often hear from their peers.

The Preteen Alliance extends our appreciation to Dr. El-Diwany and Dr. Barsky-Ex, as well as everyone who came and asked such important questions.

And we also want to thank Kaiser Permanente San Jose, our co-sponsor. In addition to the speakers, they provided lunch and the meeting space for this event.

We hope to offer more luncheons like this throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo counties in the coming months.

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