What Your Teen Needs to Know about STDs

Sexually Transmitted Diseases; Everything Teens and Young Adults Need to Know

A Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) is an infection that one person usually passes to another through sexual contact.

However, you should know that STDs are no longer transmitted only through sex. For instance, a person can get an STD by getting cut by a sharp object used by an infected person.

This article will be educating teenagers (and their parents) on everything they need to know about STDs and STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). This knowledge is quite helpful for teens and young adults as they grow into adults and navigate the world independently.

Statistics on Teens/Young Adults and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STDs/STIs have become prevalent among teenagers and young adults recently. According to statistics, young people between 14 and 25 are more likely to engage in riskier sexual behaviors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in 2019 alone, young people aged 15 to 24 made up 61% of Chlamydia cases and 42% of Gonorrhea cases in the United States. Also, there were about 26 million cases of STIs among young people in 2018.

Additionally, you should know that about 46% of American high school students have had sexual intercourse and are at risk of contracting STDs.

Most Common STDs or STIs

Bacteria, viruses, or parasites are usually the major causes of these STDs. We’ll explain further below:

1. Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are curable, but unfortunately, they can cause long-term damages to the patients. These damages include infertility and organ damage. Below are some bacterial STDs.

  • Syphilis

Syphilis usually goes unnoticed in its early stages. However, the first symptom is a sore known as a chancre. Although it is painless, it is very infectious.

Additionally, if the patient does not treat syphilis with antibiotics, the late-stage leads to loss of vision, hearing, mental illness, brain or spinal cord infection, death, etc.

  • Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a bacterial STD, and most people with this STD usually have no noticeable initial symptoms. However, when the STD develops, the patient could have symptoms like pain during sex or urination, unusual discharge from the genitals, etc.

Furthermore, if chlamydia is not treated, it can lead to infection of the urethra, testicles, prostate gland, and infertility.

2. Viruses

Viruses are usually not curable, but there are a few instances when viruses are treatable. However, with vaccinations and other medicines, you can combat viral infections. HPV, Herpes, and HIV are common viral STDs.

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

There are over 40 types of HPV. Some of these types lead to genital warts, small pink or flesh-colored bumps that appear around the genitals.

In addition, other types of HPV lead to cancers like cervical cancer, cancer of the mouth, throat, genitals, etc.

  • Herpes

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) causes the highly contagious infection known as herpes. There are two strains of herpes: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). Additionally, herpes is associated with cold sores (oral herpes) and genital or anal sores.

3. Parasitic Infections

Parasitic infections result from tiny parasites that may be unseen to the naked eye. They are treatable, but they can cause great harm, like seizures, heart failure, etc., to individuals when left untreated. One of such parasitic infections is pubic lice. 

  • Pubic Lice (Crabs)

These parasites are usually found around the genitals of the patient. They feed on the patient's blood and cause itching in the affected areas. Because it may be difficult to see the lice or eggs, it would be best to seek medical help as soon as you suspect an infestation.

How to Protect Yourself from STDs/STIs as a Teen

As a teen/young adult, you need to guard against contracting STDs/STIs. Here are some of the ways you can protect yourself as a teen.

  1. Always Use Protection

Consistent and proper use of protection like condoms helps to reduce the risk of contracting STDs. Although it is not 100% effective, it does protect you to a great extent.

  1. Birth Control

Note that birth control is not a protection method against STDs, but it will save you from unwanted pregnancies associated with sexual intercourse.

  1. Avoid Multiple Sexual Partners

Monogamy means you have a sexual relationship with only one partner. This practice protects you from contracting STDs and STIs.

  1. Get Tested Regularly

Regular testing will help you catch an STI infection early, and getting early treatment can help you stay healthy. Additionally, it would prevent you from spreading it to other people unknowingly.

5. Get Vaccinated/Practice Abstinence

Abstaining from sex is the best way to protect yourself, as a teen, from STDs. But, if you are not abstaining, you should get vaccinated against these STDs.

What Parents Can Do to Prepare their Teens/Young Adults

Parents have a responsibility to protect their teenage children from sexually transmitted diseases. Some of the ways you can do this as they become sexually active include the following:

  1. Have “The Talk” with Them: Communication is vital in preparing your teens for sex. Make them understand the implication of their actions. Also, be willing to listen to them when they need you.
  2. Enroll Them in Online Courses: Online courses teach teens about adulting. These courses also teach them life skills that will help them thrive in the “adulting” stage. So, enrolling them in these courses will be a great idea.
  3. Encourage them to visit hospitals for testing: Frequent testing will help teenagers be aware of their sexual health. This can help them start treatment as early as possible and reduce the mortality rate.

STDs Are Avoidable!

As young adults, there's the tendency to try new experiences and different trends; it’s possible to do these safely. This article teaches teenagers how to be safe and reduce the spread of STDs.

Parents have a huge role to play in protecting teenagers from contracting STDs. Adultology is here to provide you with the necessary resources and all you need to know about sexually transmitted diseases. Click this link to learn more.

Categories: Understanding and Managing Your Health