Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are contracted through unprotected sexual contact with body fluids such as blood, semen, and vaginal secretions. The highest rates of STIs are in people between the ages of 15 and 25. Your kids may have already heard about STIs at school - so the best way to prepare yourself to talk about this vital subject is to learn about them too.
Though HIV/AIDS has dominated the headlines for the last two decades, there are many other types of STI - the human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia and genital herpes, to name just a few. Once you’re prepared, you can sit down with your son or daughter and have a calm, open and honest discussion.
Remember: It’s good to warn them about STIs, but it’s much better to make sure they have all the the facts, too.
When discussing STIs with your son or daughter, make sure they know that they have the right, and the responsibility, to protect their bodies. If they have any doubts about their health, or the health of their sexual partner, then it is a good idea to protect themselves by practicing safer sex and/or by avoiding sexual activity that puts them at risk.
What is My Child Risking?
There are many serious, and in some cases fatal, complications associated with sexually transmitted infections. For example, many lead to infertility, increased risk of becoming infected with HIV, arthritis or mental illness, to name only a few. Unfortunately, adolescents have a significant risk of being infected because:
- Experimentation is a normal part of adolescent development, which also exposes them to serious health risks. Their sexual relations may at times be unplanned, sporadic or the result of peer pressure or force.
- Some may begin to have sex before they develop the skills needed to get protection and use it effectively.
- Chlamydia during the teen years is more likely to result in Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which may lead to infertility, or cancer of the cervix. Reassure your teen that chlamydia is preventable.
- Embarrassment associated with STIs can harm their psychological development and their attitudes towards sexuality later in life.
- Diagnosis of an STI is sometimes difficult, as there may not be any symptoms, especially in young women.
- Even if they are aware of health services available to them, they may be reluctant to get help or treatment. Make sure your child is aware of the resource available and how to get in contact with them.
- They quite often have a problem with treatments as they may be lengthy, painful, or they feel they have to hide their medication so that nobody discovers that they’re infected.
Make sure your teenager is fully aware of the complications and risks.