Risky Business

By Dr Victoria King 2019-11-22 14:57:02

Dr Victoria King at Jiahui gives us some real talk on the concerns around teen sexual health.

Each year over 300 million cases of curable STIs occur worldwide, with the second highest rates occurring between the 15-19 years old age-group. One of the main concerns is that the vast majority of STIs have no obvious signs or physical symptoms, thus infections are spread easily when moving on to new relationships which is more likely amongst young adolescents.

By giving teens the right knowledge and the confidence to ask questions many of these issues can be prevented.

What are the most common STIs?

There are eight common STIs that are commonly spread through sexual contact either through oral, vaginal or anal sex. The four most common STIs include Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and Trichomonas- which treatments of cure are most readily available. Genital Herpes and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Hepatitis B and HIV are the subsequent common STIs where treatment can be used to manage the condition, but not cure it.

Can STIs be spread even if two people do not have sexual intercourse?

Yes, STIs such as Genital Herpes, Genital warts and Pubic lice and Scabies are known to be commonly spread through close skin to skin contact. Infected blood products or poorly sterilised equipment used to get piercings or tattoos can also increase rate of transmission of infections such as Hepatitis B & C, as well as HIV. The Hepatitis B infection is 50-100 times more infective than HIV and can be spread via sharing razors or toothbrushes that are contaminated.

Does talking about sexual health early promote promiscuity or does having the right information actually help teens make responsible decisions?

This can certainly be a parent’s concern when thinking about broaching this topic with their teen. But as your teen grows, so too will their curiosity around the subject of sex. However, a supported teen that has an opportunity to learn about the correct forms of contraception is more likely to act responsibly and take ownership of the risks to their sexual health. This can be vital, given that teens tend to be more impulsive and are more prone to taking risks. Access to incorrect information via peers and unverified internet forums/websites can be minimised by early discussions with your teen. Discussing abstinence is also important if more aligned with your views. If you share your reasons regarding your beliefs, your teens may also be more likely to adopt your values and may decide themselves that abstinence is the safest option for them.

What advice can you give parents who think their teen may be sexually active?

Even if you think that your teenage child is not ready for a sexual relationship but you suspect that they may be in one, it is important to speak about your thoughts about this openly. Ignoring it will not make it ‘go away’ because inevitably they will want to find out more detail. Although initiating the conversation can feel awkward at first, it can also be the turning point into guiding your teen on the right path about future intimate partners and increasing the bond you may have as they develop into young adults. If you do not feel comfortable talking about it, you can provide them with leaflets from reputable websites or books about sexual health. Alternatively encouraging them to speak to their family physician with you present or alone can also be a start on their journey of sexual health.

Dr Victoria King

Family Medicine Physician

Dr King completed her qualification in General Practice/Family Medicine at the Royal College of General Practitioners, London. She also has additional experience in Women’s Contraceptive Health at the Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Health while she gaining her Diploma in 2012.

Jiahui International Hospital & Jiahui Health (Jing’an)
Phone: 400-868-3000

Website: www.jiahui.com/en