Investigating the effects of environmental pollution is a significant aspect of Biology Topics.
Write a Note on Myths and Taboos Regarding Reproduction?
A widely held but false belief is known as myth. And something prohibited by social customs is called taboo. We will now describe some myths and taboos related to the process of reproduction in humans. In the previous Chapter of this book and in this Chapter, we have learnt the scientific facts related to the process of reproduction in humans. There are, however, many wrong notions or beliefs in the minds of many people connected with the process of reproduction (especially in relation to girls or women) which are based on ignorance of facts.
An important myth (wrong belief) in the minds of many people is that mother is responsible for the sex of her child (male or female). This is absolutely wrong. The scientific facts tell us that it is the father (or man) who is responsible for the sex of the child born (whether it is a boy or girl). It is great foolishness on the part of society to hold the mother (or woman) responsible for the sex of child born.
An important taboo in the minds of many people is that a girl (or woman) should not be allowed to work in the kitchen during the days of menstruation (or periods). This taboo (or custom) is also absolutely wrong. Menstruation is a natural process in girls (or women). There is absolutely no harm if a girl (or woman) works in the kitchen or goes out for other work during the days of menstruation. The only thing is that the girl (or woman) should take proper care of personal hygiene (body cleanliness) during the days of menstrual flow.
Since we know the scientific facts regarding the process of reproduction in humans, it is our duty to help in eradicating (or removing) such myths and taboos from our society. Remember, God has made women to create human life. So, women should be held in high esteem in our society. Why look down upon women who give birth to men ! Our mother is a woman, our sister is a woman, and a man’s wife is also a woman. Then why not have a woman as our daughter ! It is the duty of our Government as well as of our society to save, protect and educate the girl child who will become the woman of tomorrow.
The formal union of a man and a woman by which they become husband and wife is called marriage. In our country, the legal age (as per law) for marriage is 18 years for girls (and 21 years for boys). One of the functions of married life in our society is to have a baby. With the birth of baby, a girl becomes a mother (or she enters motherhood). The legal age for the marriage of girls has been fixed at 18 years because early motherhood (at an age lower than 18 years) causes a lot of problems for the young mother as well as for the baby. Some of the problems brought about by early marriage in girls leading to early motherhood are given below :
- The girls younger than 18 years of age are not prepared physically and mentally for motherhood.
- Early marriage and motherhood cause health problems in the mother and the child.
- Early marriage and motherhood cause agony (extreme suffering) to the girl as she is not prepared to fulfil the responsibilities of motherhood involved in bringing up the baby.
- Early marriage and motherhood curtails (reduces) the chances of higher education for girls.
- Early marriage and motherhood curtails the employment opportunities for the young girls.
Unfortunately, in some of the areas of our country there is a tradition of child marriages. This tradition is harmful for the growth and development of not only the girls but also for boys. Though our Government is making great efforts to stop child marriages but these efforts can succeed fully only when the people are made to co-operate. So, as responsible citizens, all of us should do our best to stop child marriages in our country. We will now discuss the reproductive health of adolescents.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), reproductive health is defined as a state of physical, mental and social well-being of a person in all matters relating to the reproductive system at all stages of life. Though reproductive health is required at all stages of life, but it is more essential during the period of adolescence when the body is growing rapidly and many changes are taking place in it. Some of the important conditions to maintain good reproductive health during adolescence are given below :
- It is necessary to eat balanced diet during adolescence.
- It is necessary to maintain personal hygiene during adolescence.
- It is necessary to take adequate physical exercise during adolescence.
- It is necessary to avoid taking any drugs during adolescence.
We will now describe all these conditions for maintaining good reproductive health in detail, one by one.
1. Nutritional Needs of Adolescents
The food which we eat each day makes up our ‘diet’. A diet consists of many food items made from cereal grains (like wheat and rice), pulses, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, and milk, etc. The diet which contains the correct amount of each constituent (such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals) sufficient for the normal growth and development of the body, and keep a person healthy, is called a balanced diet.
Every human being, at any age, needs to have a balanced diet to keep the body healthy. It is all the more important to eat balanced diet (containing the right kinds of foods) during adolescence because a rapid growth and development of the body takes place during this period. A balanced diet helps the bones, muscles and other parts of the body to get adequate nourishment required for rapid growth. The various types of food items which should be included in the diet of adolescents so as to meet their nutritional needs are discussed below.
(i) The diet of adolescents should include food items made from cereals (like wheat and rice) which provide carbohydrates for energy. The food items like chapati (roti), bread, and poori (made from wheat flour), and cooked rice and its preparations like dosa, idli and biryani, etc., provide us carbohydrates for energy. Sugar and jaggery (gud) also contain carbohydrates that give us energy.
(ii) The diet of adolescents should include fats which also give us energy. The common food items which can be included in the diet for providing fat to our body are butter, ghee, cooking oils (like groundnut oil, mustard oil, sunflower oil and coconut oil), vanaspati ghee, groundnuts and fatty meat.
(iii) The diet of adolescents should include food items containing proteins which are required for the growth of their body. The common food items which contain a lot of proteins are pulses (dal), peas, beans, cheese (paneer), eggs, lean meat (meat without fat), fish, milk and groundnuts.
(iv) The diet of adolescents should include fruits and vegetables which provide many vitamins and minerals necessary for keeping good health. Fruits and vegetables are called protective foods because they protect our body from many ailments by supplying various vitamins and minerals, and help us stay healthy. For example, citrus fruits like orange, lime and lemon contain vitamin C which builds up body resistance and helps fight infection.
Carrots contain vitamin A which is necessary for keeping healthy eyesight. Iron is a mineral which is necessary for making blood in the body. The iron-rich foods such as leafy vegetables, Indian gooseberry (amla), meat and jaggery (gud) are good for adolescents as they help in making blood. Milk contains a lot of calcium mineral which is necessary for making healthy bones of the growing adolescents.
Our Indian meal of roti (or rice), pulses (dal) and vegetables is a balanced meal. Milk is a balanced food in itself. For infants (small babies), mother’s milk provides all the necessary nourishment which they need. Chips and packed (or tinned) snacks, though very tasty, should never be taken in place of regular meals because chips and other such snacks do not have adequate nutritional value. Similarly, other junk foods such as burgers, noodles, vegetable cutlets and soft drinks do not form part of a balanced diet.
2. Personal Hygiene for Adolescents
Keeping our body clean is called personal hygiene. The maintenance of personal hygiene (or cleanliness) is necessary for adolescents for preventing diseases and keeping good health. The adolescents can maintain personal hygiene by adopting the following practices :
(i) Adolescent boys and girls should take bath regularly (at least once everyday). Though having bath is good for everyone, it is more necessary for adolescents (or teenagers) because the increased activity of sweat glands and oil glands sometimes makes the body smelly. Bathing removes the sweat, oil and dirt, etc., and cleans the body. During bathing, all parts of the body should be washed and cleaned everyday.
(ii) Adolescent girls should take special care of cleanliness of the body during the time of menstrual flow (or periods). The girls should keep a track of their menstrual cycle and be prepared for the onset of menstruation.
If personal hygiene (or cleanliness of body) is not maintained by adolescent boys and girls, there are chances of catching bacterial infections. These infections can make a person ill and spoil good health.
3. Physical Exercise for Adolescents
Physical exercise is an activity requiring physical effort’ which is carried out for the sake of health and fitness. All the adolescent boys and girls should do physical exercise such as brisk walking, jogging (running), swimming, cycling, dancing, playing outdoor games (like hockey, football, badminton, basketball, etc.) or any other type of exercise, regularly. Regular physical exercise has the following beneficial effects :
- Regular physical exercise in fresh air keeps the body fit.
- Regular physical exercise also improves the mental health.
- Physical exercise protects a person from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
- Physical exercise builds and maintains healthy muscles, bones and joints.
- Physical exercise increases our efficiency in studies, sports and work.
- Physical exercise improves the general sense of well-being and makes a person feel happier.
4. No Drugs for Adolescents
Drugs are chemical substances which when taken into the body change the functions of the body, influence the mind and sometimes even change the behaviour of the person. Some of the examples of drugs are heroin, cocaine, alcohol, paracetamol and penicillin. Drugs can be swallowed, inhaled or injected into the body.
Adolescence is a period of much activity in the body and mind of young boys and girls. Sometimes an adolescent boy or girl undergoes emotional swings such as feeling confused, insecure, bored, worried, stressed out, tense or angry, etc. We should not worry about such things because these emotional swings are a normal part of the growing up process, and disappear automatically with time. If somebody suggests that you will get relief from confusion, tension, boredom and worries, etc., and feel better by taking some drugs, just say ‘No’ (unless the drugs have been prescribed by a doctor).
Drugs are very powerful chemical substances and should be used only under a doctor’s supervision. Adolescent boys and girls should avoid drugs to maintain physical, mental and social well-being which are necessary to live a purposeful, fruitful and satisfying life in this world. Some of the harmful effects of taking drugs are as follows :
- Drugs are addictive. If you take drugs once, you feel like taking them again and again. Soon the person feels he (or she) cannot live without drugs and becomes a drug addict.
- Drug addicts become irritable and lose interest in their studies or jobs. They may drop out of school or college, or lose job.
- Drugs do physical harm to the body. Drugs can damage brain, liver, lungs and kidney. In this way, drugs ruin health and happiness.
- People taking drugs run the risk of accidents because they get confused.
- The sharing of syringes for injecting drugs spreads AIDS disease among the drug addicts.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is a dangerous disease which is caused by a virus called HIV (HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus). This virus is present in the blood of AIDS patients. The AIDS disease-causing virus (HIV) can be easily passed on from an infected person to a healthy person in a number of ways given below :
(i) AIDS virus (HIV) can pass from an infected person to a healthy person by the sharing of syringes used for injecting drugs.
If a drug addict has AIDS virus in his blood and he uses a syringe for injecting drugs into his body, then the needle of this syringe will get contaminated with AIDS virus (see Figure). When this syringe with contaminated needle is then used by a healthy person for injecting drugs, the AIDS virus present on the injection needle enters into his blood. In this way, the healthy person injecting drugs into his body will also get AIDS disease.
(ii) AIDS virus (HIV) can be transmitted to a healthy person through sexual contact with a person infected with HIV.
(iii) AIDS virus (HIV) can be transmitted to an infant (small baby) from the infected mother through her milk. AIDS is mainly a sexually transmitted disease. There is no cure for AIDS disease. AIDS patients die easily even from simple diseases because AIDS virus weakens the immunity of their body due to which their body cannot fight disease-causing germs.