We have been discussing sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) in teens and young adults in this series. Throughout the series, we’ve talked about the importance of communication between parents and their teens to prevent STI’s. I want to emphasize that parents are an invaluable resource for teens on both information about sexual health, and also a resource for healthy relationships. As the mother of a new baby, I still need to experience the toddler years and the terrible 2’s, but I’m planning to communicate and model normal romantic relationships as soon as she can understand them.
Let’s cover a topic that is associated with a lot of stigma, yet is very common: Genital herpes. Most people know someone who’s had a cold sore or “fever blister.” Believe it or not, that is a herpes infection. Given how common herpes is, most of us also know someone with genital herpes too. There are 2 different types of herpes that can affect the genital track: HSV 1 and HSV2. Read full post »
Reproductive health studies show that approximately one-quarter to one-third of pregnant adolescents choose to undergo pregnancy termination, also known as abortion (I will use the terms interchangeably.) Abortion is a highly emotional topic in the United States, and there is a wide range of opinions on its morality. This post is not intended to address the ethics of abortion, nor to be a recommendation to keep or end a pregnancy; only a person in that situation can know what is right for them. This post aims to help parents and teens have accurate information about the types of medical procedures and resources available to them. (I should note that Seattle Children’s Hospital does not provide any prenatal or pregnancy care, and that includes pregnancy terminations.)
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We’ve been focusing on sexuality and sexually transmitted infections in teens in the this series of posts. Now, let’s talk about the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that’s caused by a bacteria: Chlamydia.
Most people with chlamydia don’t know it. The most common symptom is nothing at all, so it is extremely important that any teen who is sexually active be screened. The CDC recommends all women younger than age 25 who are sexually active be screened for chlamydia each year (about 1 in 15 sexually active females age 14-19 has chlamydia). Men who have sex with men should also be screened every year. Why worry about an infection that doesn’t cause symptoms? Read full post »
It’s hard to write a brief post on something as complicated on teens having and raising children! Your story will be different than anyone else’s, and your experience unique. However, I think the following 8 points are good ones to consider when your teen tells you they are thinking about becoming a parent.
1. Your teen needs to make this decision. Let your teen know what you think about them having and raising the child, and why. Make a pro-con list. Discuss your experience in parenting and give them a realistic view of what to expect. But even if you disagree with their decision, it’s important to respect it. This isn’t a decision you can make for them without the possibility of major repercussions down the road.
2. This is going to be a hard adjustment. Many parents of teens are looking forward to a time when the house will be theirs again, when they can retire and take trips and generally relax. Now there is the prospect of a new infant in the home. It’s completely normal to feel disappointed or angry, even while you know you’ll love your grandchild. If the feelings persist or are interfering with your ability to cope, seek help from a counselor. Likewise, if you feel like your teen is having trouble adjusting, have them see a counselor as well.
3. Your teen needs your help. Remember how lost you felt, the first time you were caring for a newborn? Hopefully, you had wise friends and family to help you with taking on the role of a new parent. Your teen needs that wise advice, and your experience is invaluable. Any teen can learn to feed, change, and clothe a baby. But they will need your ongoing support to interact with their baby, learn to play with them, differentiate normal behavior from worrisome signs, and adjust to their rhythms. Read full post »
The topic of sexuality is challenging to discuss in our society and culture, so tackling the subject of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) is even harder, yet teens and young adults are more likely to get an STI than older adults. One infection that has changed our society forever is human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. It’s the virus that leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). In the early days of new infection (the 1980’s), the virus was nearly synonymous with a death sentence, an incurable infection that we, in medicine, did not know much about. A recent CDC report shows that of the 50,000 people infected with HIV each year, 1 in 4 is a teen or young adult. In light of those numbers, it’s critical that teens have the facts about HIV and how to prevent it.
I remember watching the movie Philadelphia, with Tom Hanks and being deeply saddened. This was one of my first exposures to how HIV/AIDS could destroy a person’s quality of life and take an emotional toll on loved ones. It portrays a young, successful lawyer in the 1980’s who gets HIV from a partner and chronicles his struggles to find acceptance amongst peers and fight for his rights. Read full post »
One option for pregnant teens is to bear the pregnancy to term, have the baby, and put it up for adoption. 2-3% of teens who are pregnant choose this route. However, the term “adoption” is not as simple as it used to be; there are different types of adoptions available. In this post, we’ll explore resources, basic information, and options for you and your teen to consider.
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Part of normal adolescence is the development of new relationships. Teens have strong ties with peers and also began to have romantic relationships. Many teens also choose to start having sex. In fact nearly half (47%) of all high school students have had sex before. With sex comes consequences: intense feelings, possible heart break, as well as the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Unfortunately, 15-24 year old’s account for almost half of the 19 million new sexually transmitted infections (STI) that occur each year (even though this age group is only a quarter of the US population), but I want to be clear that any person who has sex is at risk for an STI. In this post, I’ll focus on gonorrhea. Read full post »
Pregnant teens have three options when they are pregnant: They can terminate the pregnancy, or they can carry the pregnancy to term and either raise the child or arrange for an adoption. No matter what happens, this is a decision and a time your teen will always remember. You’ll remember it, too.
It’s vital that you never coerce or force your teen into a choice about her pregnancy. Not only will she be left feeling powerless, but she may feel betrayed by you; that’s not something either of you should have to live with. However, your input and guidance may help her through a difficult time. If there is a choice you are hoping she will make, or one that falls in line with the values of your family, tell her, while making it clear that it’s her decision and you will respect the one she makes.
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This is the start of an entire series on sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) in teens. Rather than starting the series with gruesome pictures or detailed descriptions of specific infections, let’s talk a bit about teens and sexuality. Read full post »
Male teenagers who are involved in a teen pregnancy often don’t get much attention. And yet while the young woman bears the physical effects, a pregnancy takes two people. If your teen son is involved in a pregnancy, his reaction may surprise you. He may be expecting to do absolutely nothing regarding this pregnancy and “let her take care of it”, or he may be planning to get married and help raise the child. He may have no idea what he wants. He may feel angry, excited, miserable, joyful, apathetic, guilty, or a confusing combination of emotions. If this pregnancy is unwanted, as many teen pregnancies are, he may be having visions of a “worst case scenario”- whatever that means to him. Read full post »