Nothing off-limits in ‘Just for Teens’ sessions
By Vicki L. Friedman, The Virginian-Pilot – 12/12/2010
Zenette Leao makes it easy.
She knows teenage girls have lots of questions about, you know, OB/GYN stuff. Whether they want to inquire about menstruation or birth control, Leao provides straight answers. No preaching. No how-can-you ask me-that look.
The Chesapeake gynecologist recently started monthly sessions titled “Just for Teens.” The hour-long programs start at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday nights.
You don’t have to be a patient of hers to attend. The rules are simple. Come, listen and watch the slide show she has prepared on a select topic. Afterward, ask questions about that topic or any other.
Girls between 11 and 19 are welcome. Mom and Dad aren’t.
Leao asks parents to drop off their teens and return at the end of the session. All discussion inside is confidential.
“Unfortunately, I see a lot of teenagers who have already had issues before they come in to the gynecologist,” Leao said. “Mostly it’s for awareness and trying to get information out there.”
She said, “I have a lot of patients who get erroneous information from the Internet, and sometimes they’re looking at sites, they’re listening to friends. Even some family members are not giving factual information.”
On this night, Leao presents a slide show and discussion about viral sexually transmitted diseases, specifically the human papilloma virus, genital herpes and the human immunodeficiency virus. The pictures evoke occasional giggles but mainly questions about what these conditions are and how they can be avoided.
“Condoms do not provide full protection,” Leao noted. A Center for Disease Control presentation estimates 80 percent of women will have acquired genital HPV by age 50.
One in five adults is infected with genital herpes, she said. “A week doesn’t go by when I don’t diagnose a patient with herpes.”
HIV, she said, is the least common but the most life-threatening. Women under 20 are the fastest growing population to get HIV, she said, news that surprised the young audience.
Kryshana Felders, 15, was among those in attendance.
“I’ve only missed one since the first one,” said Felders, who attends First Colonial High in Virginia Beach. “I like how you can be really open and ask any question. It’s so much fun even though it’s serious stuff.”
Leao’s question-and-answer session is all inclusive. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable asking a question aloud, she provides index cards. She also offers answers via e-mail on the blog she has set up (justforteensgyn.blogspot.com).
She has found that most girls are comfortable discussing anything.
“I think it’s helpful I’m a physician; it’s only the teenage girls here; I’m not going to report back to their parents,” she said.
Leao, 36, is a 1992 graduate of Booker T. Washington High. She studied at the University of Virginia, followed by Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Three boys ages 3, 6 and 10 made her give up obstetrics to focus on gynecology the past three years.
“I’ve always had interest in adolescent health,” she said. “I grew up in Norfolk. I’ve always wanted to do something in the community.”
Vicki Friedman, (757) 222-5218, email@example.com
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If you are a teenage girl looking for information from a trusted gynecologist about menstruation, birth control, viral sexually transmitted diseases, genital herpes, herpes, HIV, and other gynecology issues, and live in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Eastern Shore, Peninsula, Hampton Roads or North Carolina, please contact gynecologist Zenette Leao at (757) 312-8221. She is here to help you.
About our Gynecology Clinic
Our clinic hosts frequent GYN seminars for teenage girls in order to provide them with information from a trusted gynecologist about menstruation, birth control, viral sexually transmitted diseases, genital herpes, herpes, HIV, and other gynecology issues. Our gynecology clinic provides health care to girls and women in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Eastern Shore, Peninsula, Hampton Roads and North Carolina.