Sexual Health for Your Teenager
Hormonal transition brings a number of physiological changes in the physical and mental health of adolescents at the time of puberty. However, a lot of people tend to forget that puberty related changes may influence mood, behavior, practices and sexual interests. Therefore, it is the responsibility of parents and teachers to provide effective counseling to minimize the risk of complex issues. Some common puberty related issues include, sexuality, sexual relations, teen pregnancies, teen marriages and genital hygiene.
One of the primary concerns in teenagers is to educate them about safe sex and contraception. It is important because a large number of teens are forced to engage in physical intercourse and unwanted relationships because of poor parental guidance, peer pressure and abusive relationships. Besides unsafe sex and high rate of teen pregnancies, other key issues include:
- High risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases
- Developing communicable viral infections such as HIV AIDS
Many people are unaware of the information and how they can maintain optimal sexual and reproductive health.
According to a new survey conducted on US high school students; it was observed that:
- More than 47% survey responders had sex at least once in their lifetime.
- 34% had sex in the last 3 months, from which 41% did it without any protection.
- 15% had four or more sexual partners in the past 6 months.
- 22% students had their HIV test done.
Unprotected sex and risky behavior can also lead to unintended pregnancy, HIV and other STDs.
- In 2013, around 10,000 people aged between 13 and 24 were diagnosed with HIV in the US.
- Among 20 million identified cases of STD, more than 50% are young (aged between 15 and 24 years).
- In 2013, girls aged between 15- 19 years gave births to more than 273,000 babies.
Essentials of Teenage Sexual Health
1. Practice safe sex:
In safe sex, there is no contact of blood, semen or any other fluid between the teen couples. Nobody can guarantee a completely safe sex. The best way is to involve with someone who don’t have many sexual partners or someone who is not involved in casual dating or casual sex. Use contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancy.
It is important to mention that condom use (or other methods of physical barrier) do not prevent all sexually transmitted infections. For example, engaging with an unclean sexual partner even with a condom does not protect you from genital herpes or warts. This is mainly because, open sores or warts are highly contagious and may not be covered by condom during intercourse. Therefore refrain from engaging in a sexual encounter if you or your partner have an active infection (even if you are taking treatment for the condition). Likewise,.
Some safer sexual activities (no exchange of fluids)
Sexual activities that don’t involve the transfer of body fluids include:
- Kissing (with mouth closed)
- Rubbing each other
- Imagination (thinking of doing sex)
- Body kissing (clean areas only)
- Do not agree to any activity in which you don’t feel comfortable.
If your partner wants a physical expression or love or emotions, you can engage in safe sex (i.e. using a physical barrier such as condom) or other methods of contraception to minimize the risk of unwanted teen pregnancy. Speak to your primary doctor to learn what contraceptive method is best for you.
2. Maintain Optimal Genital and Physical Hygiene:
1. Vaginal Hygiene:
Vagina is designed in such a way that it cleans itself. You just need to keep it clean by washing the outer part and no more care is required. Avoid putting something inside the vagina, as it can result in damaging the delicate skin lining and can also aggravate the risk of bacterial growth. Make sure to clean and wash the sex toys after each use and avoid sharing of intimate apparel or sexual objects.
During menstruation, make sure to maintain extra caution and care in the maintenance of your vaginal hygiene. Do not stop taking baths.
You should make sure that you change the sanitary pads/tampons regularly that is 4-5 times each day. When putting the tampon inside, wash and clean your hands carefully.
It is a bladder infection that is common in sexually active young ladies. To flush out the bacteria from bladder, you should urinate just after the intercourse and ideally wipe from front to back (to minimize the risk of fecal contamination).
Thrush infections are vaginal fungal infections that are reported very frequently in adolescent females due to biochemical changes the vagina in response to hormonal transition. In order to minimize the risk of developing thrush, experts recommend optimal genital hygiene. For example, some tips include:
- Washing outer part of vagina with plain water or soap (avoid excessive use of soap as it may aggravate the risk of skin irritation and may also aggravate the risk of biochemical changes in the vaginal epithelium)
- Make sure the soap you’re using suits your skin and doesn’t cause any irritation.
- Thrush can also be due to excessive use of skin tight synthetic underpants or irritants in certain fabrics.
- Make sure to change your undergarments daily.
If you are not circumcised, it is very important to maintain optimal genital hygiene. Make sure to pull back your foreskin before cleaning the penis carefully. Develop a habit of gentle washing and rinsing at intervals to prevent the accumulation of smegma and bacterial multiplication.
2. Wight, D., & Fullerton, D. (2013). A review of interventions with parents to promote the sexual health of their children. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52(1), 4-27.
3. Elliott, L., Henderson, M., Nixon, C., & Wight, D. (2013). Has untargeted sexual health promotion for young people reached its limit? A quasi-experimental study. Journal of epidemiology and community health, jech-2012.