Parental Guide: STD Testing and Sex Education
In as much as parents would like to believe that their teenage daughters and sons are saints, the fact is, they aren’t. The thought that your child is already having sex is unsettling as well as nightmarish. A sexually active teenager is dynamite waiting to explode. Such kids are exposed to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
What is an STD?
Sexually Transmitted Disease is a term that refers to the many infectious organisms spread through sexual contact. Examples of STDs include; syphilis, chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, vaginitis, genital warts, and HIV. Most of these diseases are treatable. However, lack of treatment can lead to serious health problems such as; infertility, brain damage, heart disease and cancer. As a parent, you need to note that many STDs don’t have symptoms.
According to statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, of the total American population, teens are at the highest risk of contracting STDs because they don’t use protection during sexual activity. They are also at an increased risk of long-term exposure because both they and their parents demonstrate a reluctance to address the issue. Additional statistics from the same source indicates that about 19 million of the people in U.S.A get an STD each year half of which are aged between 15 to 24 years.
From the definition and statistics alone, you can appreciate the seriousness of the matter at hand. Being a parent, you can’t be the proverbial ostrich that buries its head in the sand and hopes that everything will turn out fine. You need to step up and take charge forthwith. If you believe your teen is sexually active, you need to institute STD testing immediately. These tests are easy to find, and they can be performed in a discreet manner. These tests are available in community centers, walk-in clinics, and the Health Department. You shouldn’t use these tests to bash your kid but see them as an opportunity to educate them and also safeguard their health. Talk to them about the importance of good sexual practices such as abstinence and use of protection. You also need to explain to them the various examples of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and the risks they carry especially if left untreated. This information will get them to mind their health.
If your teen is not sexually active, you needn’t shy away from this talk. The point is, at one time or the other, they will be sexually active. They need to be equally equipped.
The thought of STD springs the talk about sex. One leads to the other. As a parent, talking to your teen about sex attracts all the awkwardness in the world. It is not easy for the parent and neither it is for your son or daughter. It is a talk that requires a carefully crafted approach. It is not advisable to summon them to the living room, tell to have a sit then start unleashing the uncomfortable truth. The conversation is best started over an activity they like for example; soccer or whichever sport. You can also casually bring it up over breakfast, lunch or dinner. You could also talk to them while watching television or listening to music. You can start the conversation with something like, “I know we haven’t talked about your sexual health for some time” or “I know the sex talk is uncomfortable, but I need to look out for your health and safety.” You need to make sure they know that you’re open for a conversation anytime because it is not a one-time talk. The conversation will need to go on up to when they’re 18 or 19, and it needs to start as early as possible.
Typical questions you are most likely to encounter include;
· How do I know I’m ready for sex?
· Is sex good or bad?
· What do I do if my boyfriend or girlfriend insists on having sex with me?
How to respond to questions
During this educational period, you need to make sure that you have adequate and accurate information about sex and STDs. In giving your answers to the teen, you must be; honest, direct, be open to discussion, and willing to stretch beyond facts and talk of ethics and religion. You also need to consider your son’s or daughter’s perspective. This way, you’ll be able to have a satisfactory discussion. Remember, if you don’t give them all the answers, they’ll look for them elsewhere.
As a parent, there is always the fear that talking to your teen about sex will most likely trigger sexual activity. However, research shows that teenagers who’ve talked to their parents about sex are most likely to postpone the act.
STD testing and sex education are the best preventative measures you can offer your kid.
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