Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) can happen to anyone: single, married, heterosexual or homosexual. A person may not have symptoms for a long time but may still have an STD. Some STDs are treatable and others are not. Whether you have symptoms or not, STDs can still be passed on without your awareness, so it is important for you to get checked out because you may think you are having safe sex, but you may not be.
Some common STDs:
Chlamydia: A bacterial infection of the genital tract. Symptoms start about one to three weeks after a Chlamydia exposure
Gonorrhea: Also a bacterial infection of the genital tract. Symptoms appear within 2 to 10 days after exposure
Trichomoniasis: Caused by a microscopic, one-celled parasite called Trichomoniasis vaginalis
HIV: An infection of the human immunodeficiency virus and interferes with the body’s ability to fight off viruses and bacteria and can lead to AIDS
Genital Herpes: Highly contagious and caused by a type of the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). HSV enters the body through small breaks in your skin or mucous membranes
Genital Warts (HPV infection): Caused by HPV virus.
Hepatitis: A,B, C are all contagious viral infections which affects the liver
Syphilis: A bacterial infection which affects: genitals, skin, mucous membranes as well as the brain and the heart.
Have you addressed STDs with your children and teenagers? If not, then why not? The school’s sex education program does not cover even the half of what children and teens need to know about safe sex, health risks and that oral sex is still sex. I do not believe that it is the school’s responsibility to teach children about sex, so if you as parents do not, then how will your children know the truth?
Yes, it can be uncomfortable with talking to your children or teens about sex. It can be even more uncomfortable to know that your teens may know more than you, but do they know the truth, or just what their peers have told them?
So, how do you determine where to start? Well, good question.
If you have teenagers, you may want to ask what they know. It will be uncomfortable for the both of you, but still need to have it done. Why? Well, the school’s sex education program does not really talk about pregnancy and what you and your teen will go through if your daughter gets pregnant, or if your son impregnates a girl.
When you find out what your teens knows, explore more information together, such as: condoms, birth control, morning after pill, STDs, different sexual views for men and women. Have your spouse or partner get involved too, because each person sees sex, sexuality, safe sex, etc. differently, but will help provide your teens a wide view. The more information your teens know and that you are involved, the better decisions your teens will be able to make. Knowledge is important.
If your child is younger, you can begin by talking about the parts of the body, and what needs to be private. Address masturbation, even in young boys; once they find “it”, they do not stop checking to see “it” there. Healthy exploration is good, but it needs to be balanced. Children need to know the correct names of their body, how to take care of themselves and again, what is private. If things get uncomfortable, have your spouse or partner share their views of sex, not just the physical aspect but the emotional part of sex which is just as important.
Look at pictures of STDs which can have a great impact on teenagers. Pictures do say a thousand words!
The more information your children have, the better the decisions they will make. By being more open with your children, you can help bridge the gap about them having sex and how to address what, if anything happens. This can lead to safe sex.
For Pictures, which are graphic, please visit the following sites:
© Copyright 2011 by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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