Remember that the age of sexual consent in the Republic of Ireland is 17 and the age of sexual consent in Northern Ireland is 16.
Having sex can be a mixed bag of emotions at times. You can feel self-conscious, nervous, excited or maybe not ready so here are a few common worries and a few remedies that may help:
There are several different types of baldness, some of which can be temporary. However the most common form of baldness that men worry about is known as male pattern baldness. 95% of male hair loss is caused by this.
The fancy scientific term for male pattern baldness is androgenic alopecia. Bit of an unsexy mouthful eh?
Balding generally starts when a man is in his 20s or 30s. About 50% of men begin to lose their hair by the time they are 30, and 60% of men have lost hair by the time they are 60. It is a genetic condition, which means that you are born with the tendency to develop this type of baldness.
What causes it?
Basically male pattern baldness is caused by the male hormone testosterone converting to a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on the glands of the scalp.
DHT then shrinks and reduces blood flow to the hair follicles. With reduced blood flow and shrinkage, hair can no longer re-grow. So it starts to fall out. First the hairline recedes back, followed by the hair on the top of the head.
The amount of DHT you produce and your sensitivity to it is controlled by your genes. It used to be thought that the genes for male pattern baldness came only from the mother’s side, but we now know that they come from both sides.
Trauma can cause temporary hair loss also i.e. car accidents or severe emotional upsets. However, this hair loss is usually temporary and does not start with receding along the hairline as in male pattern baldness. Rather, the hair falls out fairly evenly all over the head in such cases. This type of temporary hair loss can also be caused by an underactive or over active thyroid, nutrient deficiencies and hair pulling.
What can you do about it?
We're all different. We come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, we like different things and we have different beliefs. And we also all have very distinctive body shapes and sizes.
Healthy body image
What do you think when you look in the mirror? Are you happy with what you see or do you spend ages worrying about whether you look the way you ‘should’?
Don’t get hung up on your body, remember It takes all sorts to make the world. There are millions of different types of people so accept yourself as you are. With all the bodily changes (and life changes) taking place during your teens and early twenties it’s easy to become obsessed with how you look. Afterall your body is going through a lot of changes during this time and all those hormones whizzing around can really affect your moods.
It can be really hard if you are developing faster or slower than your friends, but remember that everyone develops at a different rate. In the long run, it makes no difference when you start and it won't affect what you will be like as an adult. This body stuff is not a competition. Try to relax, and if you are really worried talk to your parents, friends or someone that you trust.
Remember: you are who you are, there is no one in the world like you–which makes every one of us different and special in our own right. Each of us has a purpose, we have our own skills and talents, our own ambitions in life and our own sense of who we want to be.
You don’t have to follow trends to be ‘cool’ or to be part of the ‘in crowd’. Just because a singer, movie star, or even friends want you to look or act like them or do what they do doesn’t mean you have to.
You can be an individual, wear the clothes you want and choose whatever accessories you wish–as long as you feel happy with yourself, that’s all that counts.
Make sure you don’t let others put you down or try to change you, they’re not you! They don’t feel what you feel. You live your life and let them get on with theirs. Be happy in your own skin and enjoy being your own individual self.
Smoking isn't a cheap habit. In fact, it can cost quite a lot to buy cigarettes so some smokers prefer to roll their own. These cigarettes are known as 'rollies' or 'roll-ups' and have become increasingly popular.
There is a perception that smoking rollies is not as bad for you as smoking regular cigarettes. However this is false as rollies contain the same amount of chemicals that regular cigarettes do.
They’re often seen as being a healthier and cheaper version of cigarettes, but the fact is that roll-up cigarettes contain 7,000 toxic chemicals. Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and poisonous.
Here are just a selection of the chemicals that make all tobacco products toxic when smoked:
Researchers have found that rollies can be often worse for you than smoking regular cigarettes. Here’s why:
The health benefits start right away when you quit smoking:
Being a young person can be super stressful. Everybody needs little things that help to reduce the stress in their day-to-day lives. Smokers know this as much as anyone. When confronting a tough or stressful situation, the first thing many smokers do is reach for a smoke and light up.
Everybody knows that smoking may seem to momentarily relieve stress, but in the long term, it sends stress levels through the roof. But when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation, all you want is for the stress to subside a bit, and it’s easy not to consider what the long term effects of that are.
It’s understandable to feel that way. Life can be stressful, and it’s totally reasonable to want to take measures to relieve that stress wherever you can. But let’s establish this fact before going forward; smoking is making your stress much worse. This is just a fact. It’s making all sorts of dangerous changes to your heart rate, breathing, and the chemicals in your brain that determine your mood, and all of this contributes to major long-term stress increases.
So with that in mind, let’s have a look at some real ways we can keep our stress at a bearable level. There are healthier, cheaper, better ways of fighting stress that smoking. Here are our top picks:
Like so many others I reached a point in my life where I was so preoccupied with trying to find happiness I would have done anything to attain it. It was not that I was sad; it was what almost felt like a profound realisation that no one else had. I felt like I held the truth of the world, and that I being a minister of this truth gave it the justification to let it take over my life.
I knew the truth of reality, and that truth was that we are all alone, that no matter what we only have ourselves to rely on. That is the truth of reality. But so often the truth itself lies and that is the real truth of depression - the truth lies. We ponder these existential questions every single day and it doesn’t seem to bother most, but to a depressive who has nothing but their thoughts, emotions and a distorted reality to rely on these are the single most important questions in which an answer must be sought. This article is not supposed to be an anatomy of depression, but rather a narrative of how I had come to lose my identity and it was in the aftermath of my depression that a new one was forged.
Depression is a profound insight; it is in this insight that we search for meaning in life. In searching for meaning we so often look outwards, yet it’s looking inward to your own experience of trauma where meaning will be forged. You need to recall the tragedy of depression and fold it into a powerful story of insight, a tale of great endurance and an anthology of how you came to triumph over adversity.
I was 19 when I first had depression; it lasted for over a year. And in that time I lost almost everything, I lost my savings, my confidence, my romantic relationship broke down, I lost friends, and I almost lost my life on one occasion. I did not understand what was wrong with me, even though close friends pleaded with me to seek help I did not. Instead it festered and lingered, and the beast eventually went into hiding after a year. Sufferers like myself, will understand how the mask of appearance can be so tiring. Social settings can be exhausting. I just didn't want to leave my bed.
Two years later I was rejected from two masters courses because of results gained in my second year of college of which 30% went to my final grade. This was the year I was sick. I was in a job that I hated, selling computer software, in a relationship, which was faltering, and living almost alone in an apartment just too far outside the city to walk to it. Time went on, and I fought with myself for just under a year again as I spiraled into a far more suffocating depression at the age of 22 and it too was to last for almost another year.
I remember the day that I really reached out, as a 22 year old I did what anyone would do - I sought the comfort of my mother. I phoned her that day and I said, “Mom, something is very wrong, I am very sick, and I really need to talk to someone."
Over the course of the next few months I was to delve far back into my childhood and face the demons I had avoided over the past few years leading up to that moment. I started to write again, which I had not done since I was 18. I started to paint again, to draw, to express my emotions and deal with years upon years of pain and suffering through therapy.
Halfway through my therapy I stopped taking my medication. I had no semblance of what it meant to be me, and I couldn't help but question whether the medication I was taking was making me more like me, or forging a new me with medication.
I applied for college once again and while I waited for the yes or no, I also worked on getting the cap on my grades from second year over turned. I spent a year correcting the damage that the 19 year old me did to himself. But I forgive him for that.
In my depression, I tried to forge meaning from it, and it shaped me as a person. Depression helped to shape my personality today and I am forever grateful for it. I worked to build a person from almost nothing after it broke me down over the course of 3 years and I finally sought help. It was in working from the inside out, rather than the outside in which I had tried to do on many occasions, that changed my perspective on everything as I had tried to do so many times.
It made me realise that despite the hardship I had to endure, it allowed me to treat a sickness within me that would have got worse had it been left untouched. Of course, I am not saying that depression is a good thing since it is quite the opposite. Rather what I am saying, is that if we can try to realise that there is a reason for it, then you can try to get better.
It is through adversity that we shape our identity, and meaning comes pouring from it. We could go through life without all the confetti filled evenings and strawberry sunshine mornings and still have identity...but we could not forge an identity without our misfortunes.
When you are sick, you are sick. When you are sad, you are sad, and when you are melancholy then it’s ok to be so. It’s important to accept that negativity in your life and try to learn something from it. On the other side of it now, I am back in college and I have had depression and I am still here.
When I opened the acceptance email from my University, I sat on a chair outside where I read it and instantly I began to weep. I cried because after 4 years of fighting a depression I had finally corrected at least some of the damage it had caused. It was in those moments as I wept, that I became thankful for the experiences that had shaped me and shaped this moment. I was thankful for the times I felt impossibly tired because it made me stronger. I was thankful for the times I felt unable to deal with life, because it made me more resilient, and I was thankful for the time that my life almost ended, because it has allowed me to turn a grim story of depression, into a narrative of strength, insight, and triumph over adversity.
I realise I am in a privileged position and I do not fear another episode of depression but nor do I welcome it. It has become a cornerstone of my understanding that I will learn something from it. And although it will be tough, I will come out the other side of it. It would be impossible for us to go through life experiencing torment and lamenting depressive episodes if it had no meaning for us. With meaning we can endure great pain if we can just see that it has a purpose. As students of adversity we need to retell the trauma of depression, fold it into a story of insight, a tale of great endurance and an anthology of how you have come to triumph over your own personal adversity.
Every year, over 100 Irish people under the age of 35 die of undiagnosed heart conditions. Although scans are readily available, many people are willing to gamble their health on the idea that they’re probably not that one person in 500 who has a potentially life-threatening heart defect.
Back in 2002, Martina McGuire was that one person. Having just arrived home from her family’s annual trip to the Dublin Horse Show on the 9th of August that year, 17 year-old Leaving Cert student Martina was blissfully unaware of the trauma that would be visited on her family by her untimely passing.
“She was perfectly healthy. We came home on the Friday and we all went to bed around 11:30/12 that night. She was meant to have work at eight the next morning, and I remember waking up to my mam running up the corridor shouting ‘Martina, you need to get up, you’re after sleeping in’, and it turned out that Martina was dead in her bed,” remembers Martina’s sister Mary, aged 12 at the time.
As it turned out, 17 year-old Martina was suffering from a rare genetic heart condition which caused her to pass away in her sleep without warning. Originally, doctors had little idea as to the cause of her death, but when a cousin of Mary’s was struck by a heart attack (which thankfully she survived) in Australia a few years later, the family decided to get tested in case they were similarly at risk.
After getting the all-clear following heart screenings in America that summer, Mary was eventually convinced to get further tests when she returned home in July.
“I remember [after a few tests] they sent me away with the monitor for my heart activity, and when I think about it, it was stupid really, but all I cared about was a house party in college that night,” says media graduate Mary.
“I took it off and posted it back the next day, and a month or six weeks later I got another letter to say ‘come back up we want to talk to you’, and the doctor recommended that I get fitted with a defibrillator because I have Long QT Syndrome.”
Effectively an elongated beat within one of the heart valves, Mary’s Long QT Syndrome can potentially cause her to go into cardiac arrest if she comes in contact with certain everyday medications, such as painkillers and cold and flu tablets. Now fitted with a defibrillator which drastically reduces her chances of running into complications, Mary is glad she got the opportunity to check her heart health before it was too late.
“When I got told I had to get fitted with a defibrillator, my automatic reaction was to cry, thinking ‘oh my God this is the worst thing ever’, but it’s really not, it’s completely fine, I don’t even realise I have it,” says Mary, who can still do tough exercises like crossfit despite her condition.
“It’s such a simple test. It’s painless, there’s no needles involved they don’t have to take your blood or anything like that, you just get wired up to machines and do a walk on a treadmill or something, it’s so easy for people but the effects are huge- it can save so many people’s lives.”
Although very few suffer from Mary’s condition, it’s never a bad idea to get your heart activity checked out. Take a look through the links for screening options below for more information on how you can get screened.
Irish Heart Foundation: Sudden cardiac death
Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY): Cardiac screening tests
Mental health is a huge issue in Ireland today, with experts estimating that over half of young people will experience a mental health problem by the age of 24.
On top of that, around 300,000 people are believed to be suffering from depression in this country at any one time, and reports released just last week indicated that the number of suicides here reached an all-time peak in 2011 compared to records from previous years.
So, what can you do to help? Mental Health Reform want you to sign their petition which calls on the Government to ensure that funding is maintained at a decent level for mental health services.
They’re calling on the Taoiseach and ministers to allocate an extra €50 million to community mental health services in next month’s budget (according to the organisation’s figures, funding for mental health services dropped by nearly €200 million between 2006 and 2012!)
Mental Health Reform works to educate the wider population about issues affecting people’s mental health. They also promote other bodies that speak out about such topics, and encourage the State to supply adequate services and funding to meet the needs of our communities and people of all ages.
Eating out and going for lunch or dinner with friends is a great way to catch up and socialise. With family gatherings and birthdays, it’s pretty hard to avoid eating out and it can be tough to deal with if you’re trying to eat healthily. And that’s why we’re here with some suggestions on how to make the best choices when you go for that cheeky Chinese or takeaway!
Some content thanks to Safefood.eu.
It's important to get a good balanced and varied diet. We know how hard it can be to come up with new and nutritious things to eat all the time, so here are some of our favourites:
Turkey burger – Mix some turkey mince with chopped onion, grated courgette, an egg yolk, drop of soy sauce and a bit of grated ginger. Mould into a burger shape and cook in a pre-heated grill for 6-7 mins on each side until done.
Baked salmon – put the piece of salmon in aluminum foil and put any herbs/juices inside the foil before folding over. Cook at 205c degrees for around 15 mins or until cooked. Serve with some baked potatoes or salad as sides.
Lasagne – this is a good dish to make at the beginning of the week so you can get 2/3 dinners out of it. Serve with some side salad to bulk it out and get even more green goodness into your life. For a veggie option, leave out the mince and add aubergines and more veg instead. You can lasagne kits in any good supermarket with easy-to-follow instructions.
Stir fry – whether you are a chicken/pork/beef lover, a stir fry is a handy dinner, which can help a struggling meat eater change things up. Simply cook the meat for a few minutes in oil and add sauce/veggies as you go.
Veggie – Broccoli spinach fettucine is a good option if you’re not a meat-eater. Just boil the fettucine as per pack instructions, cook the spinach and broccoli in a pan with some olive oil for about 5 mins and add some sour cream and voila.
Chilli con carne - Fry some mince in a dry pan for 20-25 minutes over a low heat. Add some chopped onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in some flour for a 1-2 mins, add some beef stock and tomato sauce and bring to the boil. Throw in some kidney/baked beans, chickpeas or celery to the mince and simmer for 20 mins.
Veggie burgers - Heat some vegetable oil, add some onion and fry until soft, you can add some veggies of your own choice like mushrooms, carrot and garlic and fry for 5 minutes. Have some cooked mashed potatoes at the ready to mix in with the veg and coat with breadcrumbs. Grill for 2 minutes on each side for a nice golden colour.
Quick bake tuna - Mix some tuna pieces with onion, parsley sauce, Worchester sauce and pour into a casserole dish. Add a layer of breadcrumbs, followed by a layer of sauce and repeat until all your ingredients are used up. Layer some final breadcrumbs on top and bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes.
Figuring out your body mass index (BMI) is a common way to calculate if you are a healthy weight. It is calculated by using a formula of your weight, height and waist measurements.
However, it’s not entirely 100% accurate. Especially when you’re a young person, you are still growing and developing so BMI isn’t always the best way to see if you’re a healthy weight. You should check with your GP.
You can calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) by dividing your weight in kilograms by your square height in metres (kg/m2).
You can check yours quick and easy, right here. A lot of chemists/pharmacies will have machines that can work out your BMI for you, but again, it’s important to keep in mind that your BMI is more of a guideline and not completely accurate. Take a look at this BMI chart to see where you are on the scale.
The World Health Organisation defines:
But it’s important to remember that the BMI calculation doesn’t take into account if you are particularly muscular (muscle weighs more than fat), or if you are going through puberty.
Well done on getting to Week 4 of SpunOut.ie's month long Health Hack challenge. Don't forget to visit our Health Hack page for all you need to keep going with your healthier lifestyle.
Poached egss - put ½ pint of water into a saucepan, add pepper and vinegar and bring to the boil. Break the eggs into the boiling salted water and simmer gently until the eggs are set; this usually takes about 2–3 minutes. Serve with some wholemeal toast and/or beans.
Muesli - you can buy muesli easily in any shop but if you want some homemade cereal with less sugar, try mixing wheats, oats and dried fruits with blueberries, cranberries, raisins and some sesame/sunflower seeds. Top it off with semi-skimmed milk or low-fat yogurt.
Toasted cheese - who doesn't love this good old faithful? Go for wholegrain bread for the healthy option and low-fat cheese if possible. Add some side salad to the equation to tick some greens off your daily requirement or some low-fat coleslaw.
Cajun turkey wrap - cook a turkey breast with a spicy Cajun mix in a large pan for 4 mins with a drop of oil. Slice the turkey in strips after a 2 min rest and add a mix of sweetcorn with chilli and lime zest. Warm the tortillas as per pack instructions and add some sour cream. Roll it all up nicely with some salad on the side.
Carrot and chilli soup - heat a large saucepan over medium heat and dry fry a pinch of chilli flakes for 2 minutes. Add some olive oil, chopped carrots, red lentils, hot stock and milk. Stir it well and simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Not a fan of chunky soup, you can simply blend the big bits for a smoother taste.
Chicken tikka - heat some oil and fry onion until soft, add a diced chicken breast and cook until no longer pink. Add 2 tablespoons of curry paste and cook for another couple of minutes. Throw in some chopped tomatoes and cook for 5-8 minutes and then stir in some Greek yoghurt until the curry bubbles. Stir through the yoghurt and cook until curry starts to bubble. Serve with some brown rice for the healthy option.
Fish cakes - place some flaked fish (cod/whiting), mashed potatoes, butter, chopped parsley, and pepper and 1 beaten egg in a bowl and mix gently with a fork. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll into a long ‘snake’ on a floured surface and cut into flat round cakes. Dip the cakes into a second beaten egg and coat in breadcrumbs. Fry or grill the fish cakes until golden brown on each side.
Cheese, onion and potato pie - pre‑heat the oven to 200°C and boil some potatoes, then strain and mash them. Add onion, grated cheese, and pepper to the potatoes and put in a casserole dish. Bake in a pre‑heated oven for 20 minutes.
Hiking - is a great form of exercise for people who like to spend time in the great outdoors and getting in touch with nature. Just make sure you're wearing the right type of footwear.
Roller derby - you heard it here first. Roller derby is becoming more and more popular in Ireland. Check out the FB page to see if there's a league near you (if not, start your own!).
Martial arts - not only is a cool thing to know how to do, and you're learning self-defense at the same time, but it's also exercise. Whether you like the sound of Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Karate or Capoeira, you're bound to find something to suit you.
Invite a friend over for dinner. An easy way to make sure you're putting the effort in when it comes to cooking is to make some for a guest. And the best part is they'll more than likely return the favour.
Log your activity. Keep a calendar or chart of your progress, the little habit of marking off a day where you got your 30 mins of physical activity will be a good way to show your accomplishments (you could also give yourself gold stars instead of marking off the days).
Get visual. Stick up your goal or target somewhere you will see it an be reminded, so it could be your desk or bedroom door.