As a parent, you probably dread having “the talk” with your teen; if you’ve already gotten that awkward parenting item out of the way, have you talked with your teenager about STDs? If you haven’t – you should.
Much as you might want to stick your fingers in your ears and go “lalalalala”, the facts are standing right in front of you with their hands on their hips, tapping their foot and waiting for you to grow up and pay attention. Take your fingers out of your ears and listen up.
Every year, the Centers for Disease Control receive reports on 19 MILLION cases of sexually transmitted diseases each year. Nearly half – that’s about 9 million cases – occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24. Like it or not, if your teen is, or becomes, sexually active, they are at risk, and its up to you as the parent to give them the information they need to keep themselves healthy.
Untreated, an STD can lead to severe consequences – consequences that can last a lifetime. Consequences ranging from infertility to lifetime dysfunction can result from sexually transmitted diseases, and that’s from the ones that can be cured. Some STDs are incurable; even though treatment can improve quality of life, they will always be infected with the disease itself. Your teenager needs to understand this.
Abstinence is, and always will be, the best way to prevent catching an STD. Let your teen know that being sexually active is a big responsibility, and that it’s ok to choose NOT to be active at this time in his or her life. Most sexually active teens say that they wish they’d chosen to wait longer before taking that step; be sure that they can rely on your support in choosing that option. Let them know, too, that, if they’ve already been active, they can choose to stop having sex. Just because you’ve done it before doesn’t mean you have to continue.
However, don’t be blind to the fact that your teenager might already be sexually active, or may become that way. Teach them about safe sex practices; yes, it’s going to be awkward, but you’d rather have them embarrassed than infected with something like chlamydia or gonorrhea.
No matter what, be sure that your teenager understands that they can come to you, whatever their questions or concerns about this delicate subject, and that you’ll give them clear, honest answers to their questions. More than anything else, your teen needs to know that you love them, no matter what.