How young women can stay healthy in college

Dr. M. Susan Scanlon has practiced obstetrics and gynecology for nearly 20 years in Arlington Heights and Hoffman Estates, treating everyone from adolescents and expectant mothers to menopausal women.

Recently, however, she wrote her first guidebook, and it addresses a subject she hears about often from her patients: navigating the college years.

Called "The Gyne's Guide for College Women: How to Have a Healthy, Safe and Happy Four Years," it came out in late May and quickly sold out the first 100 copies she had printed, and all before Scanlon began making public appearances.

Its chapters cover everything from the "freshman-15" and making healthy food choices, to safe alcohol use and sexual assault prevention.

As the mother of three children, including two high school-aged daughters, Scanlon had a personal interest in writing the book, but it was her years in practice, she says, that she drew on when she finally started writing.

"One of the busiest times of the year in my office is the weekend following Thanksgiving, when college girls come home with problems," Scanlon says, "and it's usually freshmen."

Scanlon found herself dispensing the same advice over and over, prompting her to begin giving lectures on the topic at Northwest Community Hospital that drew growing interest.

Two years ago, she began taking material from the lectures and compiling it into book chapters. Before publishing, she met with three college editors to make sure the information was relevant, she says.

"It has been difficult to educate young women about the many health and social issues facing them in college, because relevant information has not been available - in one consolidated reference," Scanlon says.

Her book set out to change that and it is drawing interest from beyond her Arlington Heights and Hoffman Estates practices.

Next month, Scanlon will join a panel at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library aimed at educating parents about sending their children off to college. It takes place at 7 p.m. on July 21 in the Cardinal Room. Visit the library's web site to register, at:

"We were looking for someone to present the medical perspective, who could address health issues - from body image to emotional health," says Nancy Murray, programs coordinator for the library's readers' services department. "I just felt these were really important issues to address for parents sending their students off to college."

One week later, at 7 p.m. July 28, Scanlon will present topics from her book in a lecture at Northwest Community Hospital. The lecture is free and takes place in the hospital's Rooms 1-6.

Scanlon's own alma maters, Benet Academy in Lisle and Boston College, both are looking at presenting the material to their students.

"It's mostly about building up their self-esteem and making them comfortable enough to make the right choices," Scanlon says. "I find that the young women with a solid sense of self, including their personal values, seem to make healthier lifestyle choices in college."

Copies of the book are available on for $24.95, or visit:

"The Gyne's Guide for College Women: How to Have a Healthy, Safe and Happy Four Years" by M. Susan Scanlon, MD. Courtesy of M. Susan Scanlon, MD
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