Monday, September 26, 2011

Teen Sex Questions

I really enjoy teenagers. NO, that is not sarcasm, and YES, we have our own at home! Pre-teens & teens have always been my favorite group to work with, as a physician or girl scout leader or school volunteer. I love seeing how much potential they have, and more importantly, seeing THEM recognize their own strengths, and figure out how to most effectively use those talents to ultimately shape their future career choices. I think many adults make the mistake of talking down to teens, dismissing their heartaches, homework loads and stresses as trivial in the scheme of life (which, in fairness, is often how they look from our vantage point.) The reality is that their stress level is enormous, and that even if it is "puppy love" or "just a middle school test", these challenges are the greatest they have faced so far in their young lives. I believe we as adults can give perspective, but it is important not to minimize what they are going through.

All that being said, one of my educator roles is talking to youth about sexually transmitted diseases. I have been speaking to teens on this topic for roughly three years, and every time, I require the participants to write down a question at the end of my talk. I give them index cards (so they all look the same) and have them directly hand me the cards, so no one sees what anyone else has written. Not surprisingly, there are some common themes, though it might surprise you that I am primarily talking to straight A, service-minded, "good kid" student leaders. I thought I would spend the next several blog entries sharing some of their questions (and my answers) so both teens and parents can see what is being discussed. I'll start today with some questions about pregnancy:

1. Does birth control work?
Yes, but it is not foolproof. Oral contraceptives (the pill) are 99% effective when they are taken correctly- at the SAME TIME, every day; no skipped pills. Combining the pill with condom use as well is highly recommended. Remember, condoms alone are only effective 11-20% of the time, but adding them to the pill decreases the chances of conceiving as well as offering some protection against STDs.

2. Is it better to use two condoms at the same time, “doubling up”, in case one breaks?
NO, absolutely not. Using two condoms at once actually decreases effectiveness (due to sliding and breakage.)

3. Can you get pregnant without intercourse?
Usually not, but if semen enters the vagina, which can happen with “outercourse” or in the process of anal sex, it is possible. Young girls are very fertile – that is the take home message.

BOTTOM LINE: Talk with your teens about STDs, LISTEN to their questions, and help them find the correct answers!
PS. For more details, FAQ, answers & stories, check out Seductive Delusions

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