How to Be Sexually Active While Staying Safe

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:

www.std-gov.org
www.stdhelp.org
www.yourstdhelp.com

© Copyright 2011 by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Roy

    Roy

    September 28th, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Very difficult subject indeed. One of those things I keep nagging my wifey to do! I tell her I’m not going to be the one to bring it up. All though it’s important I don’t want to have to be involved in the most awkward talk known to man. I must imagine that kids would feel the same way.

    The misses wants us to do this talk together now that my kids are turning the ripe age of 10 and 12. I’m going to have to suck it up eventually but for now I will just let it go. Kids aren’t going to be sexually active just yet. I’ve still got a few years (thank god for that). Your advice is appreciated.

  • Robbi

    Robbi

    September 29th, 2011 at 4:18 AM

    You would think that in today’s age of there being so much information available that we would not still have to continue having these same conversations over and over again about the merits of safe sex and how to safely be sexually active.

  • JB

    JB

    September 29th, 2011 at 5:00 AM

    A topic that is so important but so many parents want to avoid.Sex is a very natural thing for us as humans and as parents we should have no hesitation in talking about it.After all when we can tell our kids about dangers from muggers,natural disasters or whatever then why should we step back when it comes to sex?

  • ReneSanders

    ReneSanders

    September 29th, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    Oh gosh this is a conversation that I dread having with my kids.
    How do you tread that line of sex being so special but also having the potential to be dangerous too?

  • MU

    MU

    September 29th, 2011 at 11:54 PM

    To all the parents who are not very comfortable talking to their kids about sex- Consider the two options:
    1-You speak to your kids about the issue and it will also ensure they talk to you if they need to know something.

    Or.

    2-They get half-true information from elsewhere,indulge in unsafe sex and you have no clue.

    Which would you rather prefer?!

  • n.e.s.

    n.e.s.

    October 3rd, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    “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?”

    Amen to that, Kelly! Parents today act as if the guidance part of being a parent is optional. It makes me mad to hear them say that the schools should teach them this or that about sex ed or whatever. No they should not! That’s a parent’s responsibility.

    Schools should purely educate on curriculum specific subjects and directly school-related topics like schoolyard bullying. All the parents doing is avoiding taking responsibility and being lazy about the life lessons they need to teach their children. You had the kids, you raise them!

  • LynetteWakefield

    LynetteWakefield

    October 3rd, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    Here’s how: Get tested regularly, use a condom, don’t have sex with someone unless you know they are free of disease. It’s not hard to avoid getting an STD. People who have STDs and know about them should never have sex again anyway until they get themselves cured. It’s selfish to do so IMHO.

  • Lance A.

    Lance A.

    October 3rd, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    A 100% foolproof way to prevent getting an STD? Abstinence until marriage. And marry a virgin. It’s not rocket science. Go back to the moral standards that used to be the norm, not the exception and you won’t be paying the price of deviating from that like the others by getting an STD.

  • Jake Somerset

    Jake Somerset

    October 4th, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    @LanceA.: Marry a virgin? That’s your fail-safe guaranteed solution to preventing an STD? Good luck with that. One, because they are as rare as hens teeth these days and two, there’s nothing to stop her (or you!) having an affair or one night stand further down the line. Anything could happen.

    Don’t be so naive! Practice safe sex, virgin or not. And oh yeah, how would you know anyway that she really was one? Think about that while you’re saving yourself for marriage.

  • cecilia w.

    cecilia w.

    October 4th, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    Parents who can’t say STD, AIDS, clitoris, penis, glans, vagina, oral sex, periods, or masturbation in front of their kids without keeping a straight face or getting embarrassed are adding to the problem. My family has the opinion that if they’re old enough to ask, they’re old enough to know.

    We’re open about the subject of sex, same as we are about almost anything. There are no secrets or dumb questions about it, and I don’t think any of my family is a sexual deviant or has STD’s. Teach them early and teach them well, that’s my motto.

  • K. Judd

    K. Judd

    October 6th, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    I didn’t find the subject difficult at all. I’ve told my kid so much about sex, sexuality, sexual health, and so on she could become a health class teacher. I’ve even told her off before for using euphemisms for her anatomy, and that it’s not proper to use silly words on any subject.

  • Cheryl Newman

    Cheryl Newman

    October 6th, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    @K. Judd – I did too, and I made sure that my son was getting correct information in the sex education classes. If I thought for a second that his teacher was giving him false information or beating around the bush, I would be there at the school making a complaint about how the teacher is behaving about a very serious subject.

  • Darius O.

    Darius O.

    October 8th, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    @Rene: The same way you talk about drugs and alcohol. If you approach sex responsibly, use contraception and ideally have it within a committed relationship, sex is a good thing. But when you have sex with random casual partners and are promiscuous you put yourself at risk of STD’s, a condom splitting, an unplanned pregnancy, or even having sex with someone underage without knowing they were underage. It’s a topic that must be discussed.

  • Julie

    Julie

    August 5th, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Uhh, this did not say anything about how to stay safe while being sexually active. It’s more about how to talk to your kids..

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