Browsing Tag:

STD

  • Sexual Health, Teen Pregnancy

    Sexual Health & What You Need To Know

    • Puberty lasts for several years. It is the stage of your life when your body is changing from the body of a child to the body of an adult. Hormones, which are natural chemicals in your body, orchestrate these alterations in your body.
    • During puberty, one breast might grow larger than the other. Once your breasts start growing, the differences will most likely be slight. And your breasts will even out before they are finished developing. Even if they don’t, no need to worry—many women’s breasts don’t match each other exactly.
    • It might take a while, perhaps even a year, for your periods to become regular. During the first year, your cycle (from the start of one period to the start of the next) may be as short as three weeks or as long as six weeks. Even after your period becomes regular, exercise, stress or a change in diet could throw it off track. If you are sexually active and skip a period, talk to your health care professional immediately—you could be pregnant.
    • An estimated 3.2 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur among teenage girls every year; this translates to one in four teenage girls.
    • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for persons between 10 and 14 years of age and the third leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24 years. Actions or talk of suicide are cries for help.
    • Today, an increasing number of teenagers express dissatisfaction with their bodies Media portrayals of idealized body images that are unrealistic for most people are partially to blame for the increase in teenagers’ dissatisfaction with their bodies. And this idealized body image among young women—and increasingly for young men, as well—is leading to an increase in the number of teenagers with eating disorders. Eating disorders are not just a preoccupation with food, dieting and weight, however; they are serious mental disorders that can have serious consequences. Two common eating disorders are bulimia and anorexia nervosa.
    • About 53 percent of all teenage school girls are not having sex, according to a 2002 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
    • You are most likely to get an STD during your teen and young adult years—more than two-thirds of all STDs occur in people younger than 25.
    • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2007, 39 percent of eighth-graders, 62 percent of 10th-graders, and 72 percent of 12th-graders reported having tried alcohol. It is the drug most often used by 12- to 17-year-olds.
    • The Harvard College Alcohol Study found a sharp rise (from 5.3 percent in 1993 to 11.9 percent in 2001) in frequent binge drinking was noted among women attending all-women’s colleges, and a lesser, but still significant, increase of the same behavior for women in coeducational schools.

     

    Questions to Ask

    Review the following Questions to Ask about teen health so you’re prepared to discuss this important health issue with your health care professional.

    1. What is going to happen during puberty?
    2. I get horrible cramps with my period. Is there anything I can do?
    3. One of my breasts is larger than the other. What is going on? Will they stay this way?
    4. What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and how do I know if I have one?
    5. I am thinking of becoming sexually active, and I want to know the safest form of birth control.
    6. Will you tell my parents what we talk about?
    7. How can I tell if I am pregnant?
    8. What is the best way for me to get rid of my acne?
    9. My friend tells me she sometimes thinks about killing herself. Is there anything I can do to help her?
    10. My boyfriend is pressuring me to have sex with him. What should I do?

    Q&A

    1. How long will my period last?

    Young women usually start menstruating between the ages of nine and 16. A period lasts from three to seven days each month. Don’t count on your period being regular during the first year or so. Dieting can alter regularity, as can stress and the amount of exercise you get.

    2. When is a menstrual cycle considered abnormal?

    You should call your health care professional immediately if

    • you are sexually active and skip a period
    • you experience severe pain or excessive bleeding
    • your bleeding lasts more than ten days
    • you have bleeding or spotting between periods
    • you have not had a period for the last six months

     

    3. What is an STD?

    Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections most commonly spread through sexual intercourse or genital contact. According to the CDC, 3.2 million cases of STDs occur among teenage girls every year; this means one in four teenage girls has an STD. Unprotected sex and multiple sex partners place young people at risk for HIV infection, other STDs and pregnancy. If you are sexually active, a latex condom is your best protection against getting an STD. It is important to know how to use a condom properly.

    4. Do I have to have a Pap test?

    You should have a Pap test about three years after you become sexually active; if you’re not having sex, you should have a Pap test by age 21. A Pap test will be done in the health care professional’s exam room and only takes a minute or two. The health care professional will insert a speculum into your vagina and lightly swab your cervix. A lab technician will analyze the results, looking for anything abnormal. Abnormalities could be signs of cervical cancer or viral infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV).

    5. I have been dating the same boy for more than two months and he is asking me when we are going to have sex. When do I have to have sex with him?

    You never have to have sex with someone. There are no rules regarding when to have sex and when not to. This decision is a personal one and should not be forced by anyone.

    6. My boyfriend broke up with me three weeks ago and I just can’t get over it. What should I do?

    Ending relationships can be painful at any age. Learning how to work through your feelings during and after a break-up is important now and for relationships you will have in the future. If you can’t shake your blues by spending time with friends or concentrating on activities you enjoy, talk to your parents, a counselor or mental health professional. You may be having trouble adjusting. You may also be experiencing depression, especially if you answer yes to several of the following questions:

    • Do you cry more now than you used to?
    • Do you think your life is hopeless or meaningless?
    • Do you have a hard time sleeping, either sleeping too much or falling asleep at night?
    • Do you spend more time alone than you used to?
    • Do you ever think of hurting yourself?
    • Do you often feel worn out?
    • Have you gained or lost weight in the last month or two?
    • Have you noticed significant changes in your appetite?
    • Are you more irritable than usual?

     

    7. What do I do when I get my period?

    You’ll need to wear some form of protection to prevent staining your clothes. You can choose from an assortment of sanitary pads, panty liners and tampons. You can continue activities and sports that you enjoy. However, for activities involving water, you will have to wear a tampon instead of a pad.

  • Birth Control

    The Pill

    What is it?

    The birth control pill is what most people think of as “the pill”. The pill is the most common BC method and is highly effective if taken every day. There are many strengths and brands of contraceptive pills. You can talk with your clinician about which type of BC pills is right for you.

    Pros:

    • 92-99% effective.
    • Can make periods more regular and cramps less painful.
    • Can improve acne and PMS.
    • Helps protect against uterine and ovarian cancer.

     

    Cons:

    • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV.
    • May cause irregular bleeding. These side effects often disappear over time, or can be helped by changing to a different pill with a different amount of hormones.

     

    Who uses birth control pills?

    People who have the self discipline to take a pill every single day and who have a safe place to store their pills.

    How do you use birth control pills?

    For most types of BC pills you swallow one pill every day for three weeks. The last week you either take a pill that has no hormones –a “reminder” pill to keep you in the habit of taking a pill each day-or take no pills for one week. This is when you will get your period. There are also pills you can take to not get your period at all. Talk to your provider about what kind of pills are best for you.

    Where do you get birth control pills?

    You can get a prescription for BC pills at a clinic near you.

    How effective are birth control pills?

    BC pills are 92-99% effective. They are most effective when taken every day. If you skip a pill during a pill cycle, you may be at higher risk for unintended pregnancy.

    Does the pill offer STD protection?

    NO. For STD protection use condoms with this method.

    From: TeenSource

  • Birth Control

    Condoms

    What is it?

    The male condom is a thin covering that fits over an erect penis. Condoms are used to help prevent pregnancy and protect from HIV and other STDs when you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. Condoms can be made out of different materials.

    Condoms come in different textures, colors and sizes. Make sure the condom fits. Some condoms are lubricated, making the condom more slippery and comfortable to use during sex. Only water based lubricants can be used with latex condoms.

    Pros:

    • Condoms can prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
    • You don’t have to go to a clinic to get them.
    • Condoms are easy to find in many places; at supermarkets, gas stations, drugstores, local clinics, and in vending machines.
    • Condoms are easy to carry around.
    • Condoms may help an erection last longer.

     

    Cons:

    • Condoms can break and slip off 1-2% of the time. To prevent breakage and slippage check for proper placement and size.

     

    Who uses male condoms?

    People who are looking for no-commitment BC and want STD protection as much as they want pregnancy prevention.

    How do you use male condoms?

    Before using a condom, make sure which way it unrolls. Pull back the foreskin and unroll the condom all the way to the base of the penis.

    Talk to your partner about using a condom in advance. Change the condom if the penis is exposed to a different site (i.e. moves from anus to vagina). Remove the condom immediately after you ejaculate (cum). Withdraw the penis while holding the rim of the condom at the base of the penis to avoid having any cum spill out. The condom should be used just once and then thrown away.

    What about lube?

    Lubricant is a water-based, slippery liquid that can help prevent condoms from breaking during use and may prevent irritation caused by the skin-on-skin friction that can happen during sex.

    Important things to remember about lubricant:

    • Only use WATER-based lubricants that are made for the purpose of having sex.
    • Never use anything oil-based on a condom (such as Vaseline, baby oil, body lotion or vegetable oils) because the oil weakens the latex that the condom is made of and can cause condoms to break!

     

    What about “double bagging”?

    You may have heard of “double bagging,” or layering two male condoms at once to get extra protection. We don’t have any data showing that “double bagging” is better or worse than the single use of condoms, but we do have a lot of evidence showing that the single use of condoms is effective at preventing STDs and pregnancy. Even if “double bagging” offers protection, because we hear so often that condoms reduce sensation, it’s probably worthwhile to focus on the correct use of a single condom. This will provide the most scientifically effective birth control method + STD protection while retaining sensation!

    Where do you get male condoms?

    You can buy condoms at most drugstores and supermarkets, and many clinics give them away free of charge. You do not need a prescription to buy condoms, and you do not need ID. People of all ages can easily buy condoms

    How effective are male condoms?

    Condoms are 85-98% effective. The biggest reason for condom failure is not using a condom correctly each time you have sex.

    Do male condoms offer STD protection?

    Yes. Condoms are the only BC method that also prevent STDs and HIV. They can also be used with other Birth Control methods for double protection.

    From: TeenSource

  • Sexual Health

    Understanding Sexual Health

    Coming up with a definition of sexual health is a difficult task, as each culture, sub-culture, and individual has different standards of sexual health. ASHA believes that sexual health includes far more than avoiding disease or unplanned pregnancy. We also believe that having a sexually transmitted infection or unwanted pregnancy does not prevent someone from being or becoming sexually healthy.

    Here is ASHA’s definition of sexual health:

    Sexual health is the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. It is an important part of our physical and emotional health. Being sexually healthy means:

    • Understanding that sexuality is a natural part of life and involves more than sexual behavior.
    • Recognizing and respecting the sexual rights we all share.
    • Having access to sexual health information, education, and care.
    • Making an effort to prevent unintended pregnancies and STDs and seek care and treatment when needed.
    • Being able to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when desired.
    • Being able to communicate about sexual health with others including sexual partners and healthcare providers.

     

    Defining Sexual Health

    ASHA Board member and professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine J. Dennis Fortenberry, MD, considers the term sexual health, how it is used, and how it can be defined.

    The phrase “sexual health” encompasses a range of public health and clinical issues related to prevention of sexually transmitted infections. I use the phrase a lot in my own work and its widening currency is a welcome new paradigm in our field. In fact, the concept of sexual health seems to me of fundamental relevance to all aspects of prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

    To be honest, though, all of the talk about sexual health doesn’t seem to have influenced the day-to-day particulars of our work. Sex still is primarily seen as a set of risk factors that we counsel against. I am convinced that this perspective on sex and sexuality as “risk” legitimates the stigma associated with sexually transmitted infections and contributes to our society’s poisonous intolerance of sexual diversity. A sexual health perspective incorporates the concept of personal and epidemiologic risks of sex, but recognizes the pervasive importance of sex in our lives.

    However, I’ve begun to wonder if I know what sexual health means in the first place. It’s a big concept, and maybe it’s natural that definitions seem idealistic, overwrought, and self-righteous. Consider the well-known working definition of the World Health Organization:

    “Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”

    There is a lot to agree with in this definition, especially in its recognition of the complex physical, emotional, mental and social attributes of sexual health, and the anchoring of sexual health in universal sexual rights. But, I find this definition to be quaintly admonishing and parental (“…the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences…”). More importantly, however, the definition is sexually vague. No matter how many times I’ve read, used, and cited this definition, I can’t derive from it even a rudimentary vision of how sexual health operates in people’s daily lives. I feel the same about the more recently wrought definition of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, particularly because sexual rights and of sexual pleasure are absent from that sexual health definition.

    So, maybe I need to get clearer with myself about what sexual health is. And, sexual health should be more than just the negatives: not coerced; not discriminated; not violent. The prevalence of these negatives in many people’s lives tells us how far we are from achieving a just and equitable society. But I think that sexual health ultimately requires much more active involvement from all of us, and it seems quite insufficient to hope that sexual health will arise on its own if coercion, discrimination, and violence are finally conquered.

    From: ASHA

  • Sexual Health

    Recognize Problems in Your Body

    Recognize Problems

    It’s important to know how your body works, and be able to recognize when something isn’t quite right. If something changes or doesn’t seem quite right, get checked by a qualified healthcare provider.

    If you have any symptoms that you’re just not sure about, get evaluated. But you don’t have to have a symptom to get checked, though. All sexually active women under age 26 are recommended to be tested yearly for chlamydia. Older women with risk factors (new or several partners) should also be tested. If you have questions about testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), don’t be shy about talking to your healthcare provider (learn more how to do that here).

    Also, ask about pelvic exams (see more below) and Pap tests. While not designed to detect STIs, these simple exams are an important part of a woman’s sexual and reproductive health. The American Cancer Society recommends women begin Pap testing within three years of first intercourse, or by age 21.
    Learn to Recognize Problems

    Menstrual

    Irregular Cycles
    In a perfect world, women would have their period on a regular cycle of 28 days. In reality, the range is more like 21-45 days. A young girl who is just beginning to have her periods and an older woman who’s at the end of her reproductive life may both have erratic periods.

    Get checked if:

    • You’re sexually active and skip a period. You may be pregnant.
    • Your period still hasn’t settled into a relatively predictable pattern after three years, or if you have four or five regular periods and then skip a period or becomes irregular.
    • Your cycle is less than 21 days or more than 45 days or if you don’t get a period for three months after first beginning your period.
    • Heavy, prolonged periods or no periods at all

    Either extreme can be a sign of trouble. The cause may be as simple as a hormone imbalance or as serious as a structural problem.

    Get checked if:

    • You’re soaking through at least one sanitary napkin (pad) an hour for several hours in a row
    • You have periods that last longer than 7 days
    • You haven’t started your period and you’re three years past the first signs of puberty or 16 years old
    • You’ve had normal periods then suddenly stop having periods for more than six months or for three of your usual cycles

    Painful periods
    Having cramps for a day or two of your period is normal, but if they’re severe enough to keep you from participating in your normal activities, it’s time to get checked.

    Abnormal bleeding
    This could be a sign of many things, such as endometriosis (tissue growing outside the uterus) for example, or other conditions. Get checked.

    Toxic shock syndrome
    This illness is caused by toxins, which create a bacterial infection. While linked with tampon use, it can also associated with the use of contraceptive sponge and diaphragm. If you have a high fever, diarrhea, vomiting or are in shock, get checked right away. Of course, the symptoms may not be related to toxic shock syndrome, but better to be safe than sorry.

    Sexually Transmitted Infections

    If you are sexually active, you have to protect yourself from diseases and infections. Obviously, the best protection is abstinence, but if you are having sexual intercourse, use a condom every time.

    Using a condom doesn’t mean you can forget about sexual health. You still need to be vigilant. Remember, many STIs do not produce symptoms.

    However, if you notice any of the following:

    • pain in the pelvic area
    • pain in the lower abdomen
    • pain when having sex
    • discharge from the vagina
    • a bad smell
    • bleeding between periods
    • burning when you pee

    Or if you notice a problem with the following:

    • painful bowel movements
    • nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite
    • fever or fatigue
    • blisters, sores, warts (or any odd skin change, including rashes and yellowed skin)
    • itching or swelling
    • inflammation (redness)

    …get checked.

    Having a symptom doesn’t mean you have a disease. The symptoms (or lack of) are so many and varied, it’s hard to tell if, for example, bleeding between periods is simply the result of a normal, age-related hormone imbalance or a sexually transmitted infection. Get checked anyway.

    Each year, one of every four sexually active teens will get an STD/STI. By age 25, half of all young people will have acquired one or more infections. If you have any symptoms that you’re just not sure about, get evaluated.

    What to Expect at Your First Pelvic Exam

    Whoever you choose—male or female doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant—let the provider know this is your first exam. He or she will be more apt to explain the procedure as you go along. Your provider will examine your external sexual organs for any changes or abnormalities. They will also use an instrument called a speculum to open your vagina and take a look at your cervix. A Pap test is often done as part of a pelvic exam. While the vagina is open, the healthcare provider will use a small stick or brush to take a collection of cells from your cervix. These cells are then sent to a lab and examined under a microscope for anything that looks abnormal. The Pap test is an important means of preventing cervical cancer.
    The whole exam is quick, painless and necessary.

    Once a baseline has been established, any changes in your body will be noticeable and easier to diagnose. If an abnormality exists, it can be treated.

    Bottom line? Pay attention to your body and how it works. Make sure a qualified healthcare provider is tracking your reproductive health. If something changes or doesn’t seem quite right, get checked.

    From: ASHA