You may remember learning about 4 STDs when you were in high school health class. But did you know that teens today learn about 10-12? There are more than 30 STDs, with new ones being discovered every year. Some cause lifelong pain and/or embarrassment. Some cause death, blindness or death in babies, and other grave consequences. Chlamydia and other STDs that cause pelvic inflammatory disease are the leading preventable cause of infertility, and the biggest preventable reason for cesarean sections is the mother having an STD. So what do we tell our teens? How can we protect them?
One 8th grade boy showed me the condom in his wallet that his mom had given him. But that’s not a solution, since STDs (especially those spread by skin-to-skin contact) can be spread even when wearing condoms. In fact, the CDC says: “Genital ulcer diseases and HPV infection can occur in male or female genital areas that are covered (protected by the condom) as well as those areas that are not.” HPV is the #1 STD, with 100+ strains leading to genital warts and cervical and oral cancers. It’s incurable.
We at Teen Decision help teens discover that the safest, healthiest choice is to be sexually abstinent. Of course, being abstinent has benefits beyond avoiding STDs and pregnancy…it also helps teens have healthier dating relationships, and even (fuel for another blog) more stable marriages in the future. One girl wrote, after the conclusion of our program: “This program was an amazing experience! I’ve now learned to be more open with my mom about sex, abstinence, and everything else. Before this program, I thought sex was inevitable. Now, I am realizing that saving it…is the best option. I am currently dating a boy that I really like. He is so good to me and always puts me first. I have only been dating him over a month now but last night I talked to him about abstinence and he said that he is willing to wait until marriage (that is if I marry him). It’s really nice to know that I won’t have to worry about STDs, pregnancy, or just not being ready☺”
FACT SHEET ON STDs from the CDC.