From Sexual Health to Just About Everything Else: Your Questions Answered

By Christina Cho ’19

Here are some commonly asked health questions and answers you may find useful. These questions and answers were generated with the consultancy of Sarah Robinson, Nurse Practitioner and Wellness Educator. If you have any follow-up questions, don’t be hesitant to reach out to the instructors at the Sykes Wellness Center! You can email Ms. Robinson at

Sexual Health

Q: Is STD screening offered at Sykes?

A: Yes! There are providers at Sykes that can do STD screenings through methods like blood or urine testing. If there is ever a need for you to see a gynecologist, Sykes will refer to one outside of the school and coordinate accordingly.

Q: Can I go to Sykes for contraceptives? Which contraceptive should I use?

A: Students can go to Sykes to talk with a nurse about the options of contraceptives available. The nurses are open to answering your questions on sexual health. It is important that you can asks questions freely and talk about sexual health before taking up a contraceptive. Students are encouraged to find the best fit for themselves. From Monday through Friday, two to three nurses and practitioners will always be available at Sykes if you ever want to talk or make an appointment.

Q: Can Sykes prescribe birth control pills? What about a ring, patch, or IUD?

A: Sykes can prescribe birth control pills, as well as rings and patches. IUDs are placed by a gynecologist outside of the school. Again, it is important that the student knows which contraceptive fits best for their body! Feel free to ask questions to any of the people at Sykes.

Q: Will my parents know if I am tested for STDs?

A: All STD checkups are confidential. Even if the student has an STD, parents will not be notified. All services are confidential and not discussed with parents. Remember, the legal age for giving consent is 16 and over.

Q: So in what cases will my parents be notified by Sykes?

A: If you are sick from something such as an illness or flu and stay overnight, your parents will be notified by the nurse. Your house counselors and teachers will also be notified, and you will be excused from classes if necessary.

Q: Can I go to Sykes to talk about sex even if I don’t have it?

A: Of course! It is totally fine to just have a conversation with a nurse on sex and more importantly, safe sex. Students can come in with any questions they have, including questions they have from reading things on the internet. Nurses can help you answer general sex questions and even debunk some sex myths for you. Even if you do not have sex, it can be a great opportunity to learn.

Q: How much sex is a problem? How much masturbation is a problem? Is there ever too much?

A: If you are functioning well in daily life and keeping a consistent, daily schedule, there is no problem with having sex or masturbating! If sex and or masturbation cause drastic changes in your body or harm your time-management, it might be a good idea to talk to the people at Sykes. As long as there is no pain or physical problem, you should be fine. Remember, your safety comes first!

General Health

Q: Why do I smell?

A: It’s all just a part of puberty and your body changing. Most of the smell is probably underarm, because your sweat glands are secreting more sweat.

Q: Is there such thing as too much deodorant?

A: Most people last with reapplying deodorant a few times throughout the day. If you have overactive or sensitive sweat glands, there is a prescription deodorant that can help with over perspiring.

Q: How can I use the sleep room?

A: The sleep room, now called “Oasis,” is available to students in Sykes! “Oasis” stands for “Our Andover Sleep-In Space.” There are Yogibos and cozy cots to rest in if you are feeling extra-tired one day. Student are welcome to rest for an hour, but being in the sleep room cannot excuse you from tests, papers, or assignments. Students can come about 2 or 3 times a term if they want to.

Q: How long should I be exposed to a screen (i.e., laptop, phone)?

A: Try to limit your screen time as much as possible throughout the day. It can be very hard, however, with all the school work. 30-60 minutes before you sleep, you should turn off all your screens, so that the light you absorb from the screen doesn’t bother you from sleeping. If you have trouble falling asleep, turning off your screens can lessen their stimulating effect.

Q: How much coffee should I drink?

A: Coffee is generally okay in small doses, but refrain from drinking it after 3 p.m. For extreme coffee drinkers, drink no more than 2 or 3 cups per day.

Q: What about tea?

A: Tea has less caffeine than coffee, but don’t drink it before bed!

Q: What kinds of things bring students to Sykes the most?
A: To split it up generally, about a third of the visits are related to injuries, a third illnesses, and a third of everything else. The last third includes mental, sexual, emotional health, as well as counseling on anything from STD prevention to nutrition and exercise.

Q: Can you get prescription meds from Sykes?

A: Sykes has a small stock of prescription medication, but most medications are called in from a local pharmacy.

Q: Advice on not getting sick during the cold season?

A: Get plenty of sleep, wash your hands, and drink lots of water. Most importantly, pay attention to your body! Listen to what your body says. Don’t try to push through school life just because you don’t want to fall behind classes. Rest before it gets worse.

Q: How much exercise should I be getting everyday?

A: Between 30-60 minutes of exercise per day is recommended for all children, including adolescents. It doesn’t have to be an organized sport– just get your heart rate up and move around! For students with days off on sports, even talking a walk can help you.

Q: What are some good ways to combat acne?

A: You can try using a gentle face soap after exercising and before bed. If you wear makeup, make sure to wash it all off. Medicated face washes and benzoyl peroxide cream can help treat acne. There are also prescription medications you can take to combat acne.

Q: Does putting toothpaste on your face ever help with acne?

A: It’s generally not recommended to use toothpaste, but it depends on the type. Toothpaste with baking soda can dry out acne. But try to avoid using toothpaste, especially the minty kinds!

Q: Do a lot of students at Andover seek help from a counselor?

A: Yes! Although it may not seem like it, many students go to Sykes to talk to a counselor. Last year, in 2016, The Phillipian “State of the Academy” stated that 43% of the student body had seen a counselor on campus. Even if it’s just once, people are still welcome to talk to counselors. The counselors in Sykes are more than happy to talk to you about smalls things like homesickness or relationship problems– it doesn’t have to be long-term.

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