When children become adolescents, their bodies are changing, and they become curious about what’s happening to them. Their hormones are going into overdrive, which can cause them to make poor decisions such as engaging in sexual behavior without any consideration of the consequences.
This may result in unwanted pregnancies or an STD.
Sexually transmitted diseases occur from person to person after engaging in risky sexual contact – oral, vaginal or anal. Therefore, parents are encouraged to start holding sex education talks with their child with particular importance on STDs, the risks and how to protect themselves from catching one.
What To Be Mindful Of
There are over 25 known STDs that viruses or bacteria cause. During the early stages, most STDs do not exhibit any symptoms, which is why getting tested is so important. On top of that, STD symptoms can vary significantly.
If a teen is experiencing smelly, greenish, grayish or yellow discharge from their private area, they should be immediately taken to their doctor. Any stomach or genital pain, or rashes or sores, are also tell-tale signs of STD.
There are some STD symptoms that display some unique symptoms. Syphilis can, not only cause painless genital sores, but it can also cause the lymph glands to swell and later lead to problems in the soles and palms of the infected.
Gonorrhea infections can occur in the throat and anus, leading to painful bowel movements, anal discharge and sore throats.
HPV (human papillomavirus) will cause itchy warts in the anus, vagina and cervix. Most of these infections go undetected and show no outward symptoms. And, certain HPV infections can cause cervical cancer.
People who are first infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) may suffer from symptoms that resemble the flu. If left untreated, it will eventually lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
While some sexually transmitted diseases can be cured – gonorrhea and chlamydia – some such as HIV and herpes have no cure but can be managed with prescription medications. Precautions must also be taken to avoid the risk of passing the infection to a partner.
Women with untreated STDs can suffer from pelvic inflammatory disease and, eventually, infertility. Untreated HIV and syphilis can be deadly in the later stages.
How To Alleviate The Risk
It’s very important that parents talk to their teenagers about sex, as it’s the first step to preventing an STD. The topic can be gradually introduced. Begin early – preschool age – about safe touch and private parts. As a child ages, parents can adapt the topic to more adult ones.
While talking about sex and STDs is a rather touchy subject in society, it’s imperative for parents to stop avoiding the topic to protect their children. While the best prevention is abstaining from sex – intercourse or contact – it’s good for children to know how to best protect themselves if they do decide to become sexually active.
Children should also know that participating in dangerous activities such as drinking alcohol or using drugs increases their chances of engaging in unsafe sex. They should also be made aware that if a person says no, that does not give them the right to continue their sexual advances.
The best thing a parent can do is educate their child about how to stay safe. Sexual education can begin at a young age and be tailored to fit the child’s age. Since some STDs are incurable, the best medicine is knowledge.