“Joey and I have been dating for three months and I have yet to tell my parents about our relationship. If they knew, they would surely scold me and rant about how I should remained focused on school instead of boys. Now I’m even more afraid because he and I have had sex more than once and I’ve started to notice strange things happening to my body. I thought it may have been typical female problems, but these strange things happening to my body haven’t subsided. I just know that if they knew about what I’ve been doing, that the result could end badly. Geezz…How will I tell them? Should I lie? Maybe this will all go away!” – Lee, 18
What happened to Lee is the same thing that many young people just like you experience each and every day. Although this is unfortunate, this exemplifies the need of communicating with your parents about
the potential consequences of sex in your relationship. Each year, 13 to 24 year olds just like you account for nearly half of the 20 million sexually transmitted infections (STI) reported across the country. Unfortunately, many of them don’t know where to begin or what to do if they believe that their symptoms closely resemble an STI.
Fortunately, I grew up in a home where sex remained a major topic of discussion. My parents took every avenue to make sure that I remained aware of the dangers of having unprotected sex. For some, talking with their parents about an STI is completely unrealistic, so here are three tips to lead you in the right direction to acquire the optimum sexual health if you suspect you have an STI.
1. Don’t ignore the issue.
Too often, many youth think that their symptoms may be caused by puberty, and don’t realize the severity of ignoring the symptoms of an STI. Blatantly ignoring your symptoms can lead to other health complications if gone untreated for extended periods of time. One example is the Human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause genital warts. Another is chlamydia, which can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if gone untreated. Both of these STIs illustrate how necessary it is to not ignore your symptoms and pass them off as things that naturally occur during puberty.
2. Talk to your doctor…Get tested!
If you feel that talking to your parents about an STI is unrealistic, then try speaking with your doctor or go
to your local County Health Department. Doctors are required to respect your privacy, meaning they aren’t allowed to tell your parents what you and he/she discussed during your visit. In fact, in most states, youth ages 13 and older can get tested for an STI without parental consent. Be aware that while the doctor is not allowed to disclose your visit to your parents, there are certain circumstances were the doctor is required to notify your parents. Situations such as acquiring an STI from someone that may have done inappropriate things to you or suicidal thoughts are two circumstances when medical professionals are required by law to discuss these things with your parents to sustain your health and ensure your safety. Also, be aware of clinics and organizations in your area that provide free testing.
3. Use your resources.
After getting tested and talking to your provider about options that will best suit you and your sexual activity, be sure to use the resources that they provide you. Most clinics and health centers will provide you with condoms for free with information to help you prevent contracting and transmitting an STI. Do not let the stigma around sex or condom usage steer you away from doing what is best for your health. Your life matters, and no matter how old you are, your sexual health is also just as important.
So make sure you seek the care and products that will help you prevent contracting an STI. Though many STIs are treatable relatively easily; such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis; getting a STI can still be
a traumatic experience for some youth. Ensure you never have to go through what Lee went through. Protect yourself and your partners by seeking care, getting tested, and using protection when you have sex.