STDs And Teens
The possibility of getting pregnant while still a teenager is probably the number one worry for sexually active teen girls. Most girls of this age don’t want their parents to know they are having sex and a pregnancy would be, obviously enough, pretty difficult to hide from Mom and Dad, not to mention the other problems that arise from becoming a mother at a very young age. Nevertheless, the rates of teenage pregnancy and the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are on the rise among young people. It seems that even those teen girls who are worried about getting pregnant are not (all) doing a good job of protecting themselves, and that knowledge of STD prevention is also lacking among some teenage girls. If you’re a teen who is sexually active or considering starting to have sex, or if you’re the parent of a teenage girl, you need to have the correct information about STDs and how they are spread. When it comes to sex, pregnancy is not the only possible outcome.
What Are STDs?
Sexually Transmitted Diseases come in many forms. They are spread between people through sexual contact. Some STDs have obvious, unpleasant symptoms and some have no symptoms at all. STDs can have long term affects on your general health. In the STDs and Infections section of this website, you’ll find a wealth of information on the different types of STDs out there and how they impact on your body. How Are STDs Spread? Although STDs are “sexually transmitted,” this doesn’t mean that you catch them only by having sex. Some forms of STDs can be passed on through close physical contact even if vaginal sex hasn’t taken place (for example, contact between hands and genitals or between the mouth and genitals). Some STDs can be spread through oral or anal sex.
Who Gets STDs?
STDs are most common among sexually active teens and older adults who do not practice safe sex. By safe sex we mean that the male partner uses a latex condom (in the correct way) every single time he has sex, without exception. Statistics show that teens who begin having sex at a very young age are more likely to catch an STD (this may be because these teens have less access to condoms and safe sex information). Teens who have many different sexual partners are also at a higher risk of contracting an STD.
Protecting Teen Girls
Abstaining - The only method that offers a girl 100% protection against STDs (and pregnancy) is not having sex or sexual contact, at all. Obviously, this is not a solution for everyone…
Latex Condoms - If you are having sex, you must insist that your male partner uses a latex condom, correctly, every single time you have sex. Never use a condom more than once. Never have sex with a guy who refuses to wear a condom – he’s simply not worth it. If you and/or your partner aren’t sure how to put the condom on him, you can always practice using the instructions you’ll find inside the condom packet. Some family-planning clinics provide demonstrations on how to use condoms – ask your doctor for information.
See Your Doctor – Try not to be embarrassed about going to your doctor for sexual health advice. He or she will respect you for being smart and coming in to ask the right questions. Even if you think you may have already caught an STD, the time to do something about it is now, and the doctor is there to help you. When you do go to see your doctor, be honest about your sexual behavior.
Get Tested – If you are already sexually active, even if you have no STD symptoms, ask your doctor for a Chlamydia test. Chlamydia often shows no symptoms in women, but if left untreated it can lead to infertility. The sooner this disease is treated, the easier it is to prevent any long-term effects.
Pap Smears – you need to start going to for regular Pap Smear tests no later than three years after the first time you have sex. Pap Smears help to identify whether or not you have any abnormal cells in your cervix which could develop into cancer later on. The abnormal cells can be caused by a sexually transmitted disease called HPV. (Ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine and Pap Smear tests).
If you have had sex and you develop any of the following symptoms, go see your doctor right away.
Unusual vaginal discharge (strange color or smell)
Pain when you urinate or darker colored urine
Pain when you have sex, bleeding when you have sex (this is normal the first time you have sex)
Lower abdominal pain, lumps, sores, blisters, or warts in the genital or anal area (or around the mouth)
Itching and discomfort in your genital area