STDs In Teens - Types, Myths And Facts

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The prevailing taboo of talking to the kids about sex and ignorance towards the subject increases a teen’s risk of contracting one of those dreadful sexually transmitted diseases. As a parent, you need to educate your son or daughter about how to protect themselves from STDs.

We know that it’s a subject that you’d rather not address, but you must. To help you, MomJunction has compiled some information about STDs in teens and how you can help your teen become aware and more vigilant about them.

About STDs In Teens:

STDs typically spread from one person to another through sexual intercourse or physical intimacy. And, rather unfortunately, STDs are more prevalent among adolescents than other age groups, majorly due to a lack of proper knowledge of the subject.

Your teen is at a greater risk of contracting an STD because of improper information about safe sex. If such a condition remains untreated, some conditions can even cause permanent damages, like infertility, or even death (1).

[ Read: Sex Education For Teenagers ]

How Do STDs Spread?

STDs do not only spreads during sexual intercourse. In some cases like herpes or genital warts, the infection can spread through normal skin-to-skin contact with the infected region.

A common misconception about STDs is that the disease only spreads when your teen has oral or anal sex. But, all the hogwash aside, the infection can spread and enters your teen’s body through tiny cuts or mouth or anal tears.

Some cases, which can increase your teen’s risk of contracting an STD include:

  • Having sex at a tender age- When your teen gets physically intimate with an infected person, he is probably at a greater risk of getting afflicted with an STD.
  • Having sex with different partners- Lack of sexual awareness makes your teen have sex with various partners, and it enhances his risk of getting infected with contagious germs.
  • Unprotected sex- Improper knowledge of protective measures like contraceptive pills or condoms increases your teen’s risk to suffer from STDs. But if your teen uses birth control protections like latex condoms, he can prevent the entry of contagious germs that enter his body through the genitals.

Rates Of STDs In Teens:

Let us check out, some of the crucial statistics related to the rate of STDs in teenagers:

  • Researchers conclude that teenagers are at a higher risk of getting afflicted with STDs than adults.
  • 46% high school students in America have sexual intercourse during their adolescent years and are at a greater risk of suffering from Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection.
  • The USA has the highest rate of teen afflicted with STDs (2).

Common Myths About STDs In Teens:

A lack of awareness about the sexually transmitted diseases in teens also gives rise to rumors, some of which are beyond ridiculous. Here are some common ones:

1. STDs Only Affect Unkempt People:

  • STDs don’t discriminate. They can infect anyone of any age, sex, religion, tribe or nationality.
  • When your teen has sexual intercourse without using protective measures, his risk of contracting an STD and coming in contact with contagious germs is pretty high.
  • The best way to fight the germs is to seek requisite medical guidance and undergo a screening as soon as possible.

2. HIV Spreads From Skin-To-Skin Contact:

  • Another laughable one. HIV doesn’t spread through touch or skin-to-skin contact. But, in countries like ours, a person with HIV is ignored and neglected by people, who fear to touch him, lest they catch the infection.
  • But, one should remember that HIV cannot spread through skin-to-skin contact. The contagious germ only spreads when the infected person is sexual intimate with others.

3. STDs Only Spread Through Oral Sex:

  • People don’t get infected by an STD only after having oral sex, but after unprotected oral sex.
  • When one of the partners suffers from an open sore or bleeding gums, your teen is at a higher risk of getting an STD.
  • It is best for your teen to use a condom or dental dam that prevents the unwanted spreading of the germs.

4. Contraceptive Pills Prevent STDs:

  • Contraceptive pills, as their name suggests, only serve as contraception agents and lower the risk of getting pregnant.
  • Contraceptive pills don’t prevent STDs. (3)

[ Read: Best Birth Control Options For Teens ]

Types Of STDs In Teens:

Here are some common types of STDs teens encounter:

1. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV):

  • The virus can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Symptoms (AIDS), which is a fatal disease.
  • HIV usually spreads when your teen has unprotected sex with an infected person. It can also occur, when his body comes in contact with contaminated needles or infected blood.

2. Human Papillomavirus (HPV):

  • The virus causes genital warts or condylomas that can appear both inside and outside the genital region.
  • Girls infected with HPV infection have higher chances of developing from cervical cancer later in life.

3. Chlamydia:

  • The infections can affect both adolescent girls and boys, and some of the common symptoms include abnormal genital discharge and painful urination.
  • Girls with untreated Chlamydia can suffer from pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, and ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.

4. Gonorrhea:

  • Typical symptoms of gonorrhea include vaginal discharge or discharge from the penis and painful urination.
  • Doctors recommend your afflicted teen undergo antibiotic therapy to recover from the condition.

[ Read: Peer Pressure And Teen Pregnancy ]

5. Genital Herpes:

  • The infection herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes genital herpes in teens. Some common signs of the disease are open sores, painful blisters, and burning sensation in the genital region.

6. Syphilis:

  • The initial sign of the condition is the appearance of painless open sores on the vagina or penis.
  • Untreated syphilis can even lead to severe damage to your teen’s heart and central nervous system (4).

A Word Of Caution:

  • Learn about STDs and seek medical assistance if required.
  • Always try to have protected sex with your partner.
  • Visit the medical laboratory to undergo regular checkups for STDs.
  • Avoid anal intercourse without using topical microbicides or a latex condom.

Feel free to share your knowledge and experiences with other parents here!

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