Despite the abundance of information about sexually transmitted diseases, the knowledge of adolescents about these diseases and about measures to prevent them leaves much to be desired. Even in developed countries, by the age of 25, approximately half of sexually active youth are ill with at least one STD, most often with chlamydia and genital herpes. What should you remember first of all?
How can you get an STD?
Infection occurs with any contact with the mucous membranes of the genitals. It does not matter if it is full vaginal sex or only its attempts, oral or anal - any unprotected contact can result in infection. An improperly used condom also increases the risk of STDs in both partners.
Are there any signs indicating that the partner has an STD?
Theoretically, you can see the bubbles on the mucous membrane during exacerbation of genital herpes or notice turbid discharge from the urethra. But in practice, it almost never comes to this. In addition, many STDs can be erased, asymptomatic. So there are no absolute signs.
How can I find out if I have an STD or not?
Only according to the results of laboratory tests. Analyzes can be taken in any clinic, as well as in any laboratory, including anonymously.
Will doctors tell my parents that I have an STD?
In accordance with the law, such information can be provided to third parties only with the consent of the teenager if he is 15 years old. Theoretically, up to this age, parents have the right to know the results of tests and examinations, but doctors in such cases do not take the initiative in their hands, try to convince the teenager to tell everything about it.
What infections should I be tested for?
The main ones are HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia. Screening for other STDs should be agreed with your doctor.
After unprotected contact you need to immediately run to the laboratory?
Not always. For example, antibodies to HIV in the blood appear 3-6, and sometimes 12 weeks after infection, syphilis by blood test can be determined 3-5 weeks after infection. Genital herpes quickly manifests itself clinically, as, indeed, gonorrhea. After questionable unprotected contact, it is best to always use condoms until it becomes clear that there are no STDs, considering yourself potentially dangerous to other partners.
How are STD tests done?
Blood is taken from a vein for examination, in addition, for young men, a smear from the urethra, and for girls, smears from the urethra and vagina. Sometimes the causative agents of gonorrhea can be determined by urine.
How is STD treated?
In most cases, apart from HIV and genital herpes, treatment is with antibiotics. In no case do not start taking them yourself, especially with a “preventive” purpose. If there is an STD, and you started to treat it incorrectly, there is a risk of chronic process and the development of a wide variety of complications - from narrowing of the urethra and prostatitis in young men to chronic inflammation of the appendages and secondary infertility in girls.
HIV infection is treated according to a special scheme in specialized institutions. Unfortunately, it has not yet been completely cured, but with the help of modern means it is possible to delay the transition of HIV infection to the terminal stage with clinical manifestations - AIDS. Genital herpes is treated with antiviral drugs, however, also without much success.
How to prevent STD infection?
First of all, be picky about connections. A large number of partners, especially random ones, are the shortest way to acquire a bouquet of a wide variety of infections. One of the successful tactics is “serial monogamy” - loyalty to the current partner in a long-term relationship, in which both are tested for STDs and then have sex only with each other.
Quite effective vaccines have been developed against some sexually transmitted infections, in particular hepatitis B and human papillomavirus.
Barrier contraception, provided that it is used correctly, remains one of the most reliable methods of protection against STDs. Condoms can be used by both boys and girls.
What does “proper condom use” mean?
This means that any condom - both male and female - must be worn on the penis or inserted into the vagina before any contact of the mucous membranes, and not after. Condoms must be used for all other types of sex.
The condom must be sized, otherwise it can either burst or come off. Before putting on a male condom, it is necessary to squeeze its tip, displacing the air from there, otherwise there is a high risk of rupture of the product.
Condom reuse is not allowed. Instructions for use are attached to any condom, at least once it must be studied from and to.
The importance of sexuality education
How important is the sexual education of children, many parents know. But not everyone is in a hurry to put their knowledge into practice: for many adults, conversations on intimate topics with their children are prohibited, and this often leads to sad consequences.
Parents should understand that a little girl will grow up anyway, she’ll probably marry and give birth to children. The little boy will become a grown man, head of the family and father. Sooner or later, the child will begin to look for answers to exciting questions. It is better if the parents become the main source of information.
Mom and dad are not shy about saying why you can’t touch a hot iron, why you can’t walk without a hat in the winter, why smoking is harmful and why it is dangerous to swim in a dirty river. So the issues of sex education should be on a par with the rest. The less parents will be shy, avoid conversations and avoid such problems, the more trustworthy will be the relationship with their children. Parents must inform the teenager that they will help and support him, no matter what happens.
Adolescents enter into an intimate relationship with the opposite sex, considering themselves mature enough and adults. But they sometimes forget that a truly adult person knows how to bear responsibility for his actions. An adult is able to take care of himself and his beloved person.
The age of onset of sexual activity is a personal affair of each person. But only the teenager’s comprehensive knowledge of “adult” life and his medical literacy will help “not to break firewood” and maintain his health.
Each family decides how to present the necessary information to their child individually. It is clear that this should not be a moralizing lecture on the topic “What is good and what is bad”. Something can be told in a confidential conversation, something can be read.
Not all adolescents love to listen to parents' instructive conversations. There is a different approach to rebels. You can interest the child in finding information on important issues, go for a trick. For example: “Dasha, I met a school friend today, and she’s all upset. He says that he cannot become pregnant after an ectopic pregnancy. And I don’t understand what is the connection between these events. Let's read it together in the evening, otherwise I won’t deal with this Internet alone. ” Dasha will not only help to find the necessary information, but also will understand that such serious things can be discussed with her mother.
What is insidious genital infections?
Many people believe that genital infections are the destiny of socially disadvantaged people who lead an immoral lifestyle. This is not true. Anyone can get STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). Of course, people who lead a promiscuous life, often changing sexual partners, are at greater risk of getting sick. But even one accidental sexual contact at the resort is enough to then “disintegrate” its consequences for years.
In adolescence, the initiator of sexual relations is usually young men, especially if they are older. Girls often do not want, are not ready, and even afraid to begin sex life. But they may soon surrender, explaining their act with the words "Otherwise, he will leave me." Early sex is not worth checking to quit or not. A young man who truly loves and respects his girlfriend will be waiting for her for years. He will beat off the rest of the suitors with a kite and defend his happiness. Intimate life is a granted manifestation of love between two adults. Teenagers also have strong feelings, but sincere affection does not go away after a couple of intimate dates.
Starting a sexual life at the age of 14-15, a teenager is likely to change several partners before meeting his “soul mate”. In relationships, feelings and emotions usually come to the fore in young people, and there is no place for caring for their health. This contributes to the spread of genital infections. Why are they so dangerous?
- Many STDs have a long latent period. A person leading an erratic sex life may not even remember who he contracted.
- Having received treatment for any kind of sexual infection, there is no guarantee that the person will not get sick again.
- A lot of infections occur in erased forms, which contributes to the chronicity of the process. A person learns about some infections years after infection.
- Chronic processes in the organs of the genital area cause diseases such as prostatitis in men (inflammation of the prostate gland), salpingoophoritis in women (inflammation of the ovaries and fallopian tubes), etc. They very often lead to infertility of both sexes.
- Ectopic pregnancy is one of the worst consequences of STDs. If pregnancy arose in the fallopian tube, then you have to remove it (sometimes along with the ovary). The chances of getting pregnant fall sharply after removing one fallopian tube. The occurrence of pregnancy in a natural way after the removal of two fallopian tubes is impossible.
- Asymptomatic carriers of infections may claim to be healthy while continuing to infect others.
- Sometimes a person takes antibiotics or antiviral drugs for other diseases. These drugs can "muffle" the manifestations of genital infections or smear the clinical picture. As a result, pathogens become resistant to these drugs, and treating diseases is becoming increasingly difficult.
- When carrying a child against the background of the course of genital infections, miscarriages, the formation of fetal malformations, complications of pregnancy and childbirth are possible.
- Infection of the child is possible at any stage of pregnancy. It depends on when the mom met the infection. A baby with a congenital infection is subject to a long examination and treatment. Sometimes he remains disabled.
- In more severe cases of intrauterine infections, the baby may be born dead or die soon after birth.
How can you protect yourself from genital infections?
The best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections in adolescents is to sharply limit sexual contact. It is necessary to avoid frequent changes in sexual partners and casual relationships, respect yourself and your chosen one. It is necessary to remember both boys and girls that in the future they will become mom and dad. How the pregnancy will proceed, how the baby will be born, directly depends on the health of the sexual sphere of both parents.
Among the seeming variety of means of protection against genital infections and unwanted pregnancy, not all are suitable for adolescents. Some remedies protect fairly well from pregnancy, but do not have any effect on dangerous pathogens. Some means of barrier protection require a certain skill of use, therefore, are also not suitable for adolescents. These include female condoms and chemical contraceptives.
Male condoms are the most suitable STD protector for teens. Their use will also require some skill, but learning this is not difficult. With proper use, condoms sufficiently reliably protect not only from genital infections, but also from unwanted pregnancy.
Some teenagers are stopped by the price of condoms. A quality product is more expensive than cheap remedies. In any case, to “resolve” the consequences of unprotected sex, you will need much more money.
It is equally important to undergo a regular medical examination. Test yourself for HIV, syphilis, viral hepatitis annually. Girls should visit a gynecologist once every 6-12 months, who will take the necessary tests and answer exciting questions. If necessary, the doctor will prescribe additional examinations that will help to identify latent STDs. For young men, such a doctor is a urologist.
Some sexually transmitted bacterial infections
This disease is caused by gonococcus. Often combined with trichomoniasis, which makes it difficult to treat a person. A sick mother can infect her baby with a gonococcal infection during childbirth. Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics, which are prescribed only by a doctor. Untreated infection can cause infertility.
The incubation period of the disease is 3-5 days. The disease can affect different organs, very often occurs with scanty symptoms, often goes into a chronic form. It is patients with erased forms that are very dangerous because they infect their partners without wanting it.
Symptoms of the disease are different. For example, with lesions of the urethra, purulent discharge from it, pain and pain, when a person urinates, are disturbed. With colpitis, a woman is concerned about purulent discharge from the genital tract, pain in the abdomen and lower back. Symptoms of gonorrhea are usually more pronounced in males.
This disease is one of the most common among STDs. The causative agent is chlamydia (Chlamidia trachomatis). The manifestations of chlamydia are nonspecific, are in the nature of inflammatory processes in the reproductive organs. An asymptomatic course of the disease also occurs.
Manifestations of acute chlamydia begin 3-4 weeks after infection. Pain appears in the lower abdomen and in the sacrum during or after sexual intercourse. In women, abundant vaginal discharge of a different nature begins, urination disorders. In men, chlamydia is usually manifested by symptoms of inflammation of the urethra.
Chronic chlamydia does not have vivid manifestations. Often leads to the formation of adhesions in the pelvis, which becomes the cause of both male and female infertility. Often chlamydia become the culprits of an ectopic pregnancy.
Chlamydia complicates the course of pregnancy and the postpartum period. Half of the children born to infected mothers become infected with a chlamydial infection. In newborns, chlamydia affects the eyes and lungs. In severe cases of infection, the baby may die.
This is a very insidious sexually transmitted disease, which is caused by pale treponema. Sexual transmission is primary in syphilis. A disease lasts for a person for years, passing from one stage to another, gradually affecting various organs and systems of a person and destroying them.
The very first symptoms of syphilis are the appearance of a solid chancre (sore) at the site of the pathogen introduction and an increase in regional lymph nodes. It may take several months from the moment of infection before symptoms appear. A person may not notice the first symptoms, and then the disease will move to another stage, gradually affecting the entire body.
During pregnancy, syphilis can lead to miscarriages, stillbirth, the formation of malformations, the birth of a very difficult sick child. Sometimes a baby can be born outwardly healthy, but infected. Symptoms of congenital syphilis disease can occur after several months or even years, leading to a child’s disability.
- Infections associated with mycoplasmas and ureaplasmas.
Mycoplasmas and ureaplasmas occupy an intermediate position between bacteria and viruses. They can be part of the normal human flora and not cause problems. Under certain conditions, mycoplasmas and ureaplasmas can cause the development of inflammatory processes in the genital area. They often cause female and male infertility.
Symptoms in the acute process are nonspecific and differ little from the manifestations of other genital infections: pathological discharge from the genital organs, pain and pain during urination, burning in the genital area. Most often, the infection is asymptomatic, forming a chronic inflammatory process.
In pregnant women, these pathogens can cause premature discharge of the amniotic fetus, the birth of a premature baby. In a newborn, mycoplasmas and ureaplasmas can cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other serious diseases.
The most common sexually transmitted viral infections
Genital herpes is a common disease. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 2. The infection differs in that a person develops a lifelong carriage of the virus. Поэтому заболевание характеризуется склонностью к рецидивированию. Нередко половой герпес протекает без явных симптомов. В лечении применяют противовирусные препараты и иммуностимуляторы.
The main symptom of an acute disease or exacerbation of a chronic process is the appearance of characteristic rashes on the labia, perineum, vagina, and cervix. In men, rashes appear on the external genitalia, buttocks. The internal genital organs are affected in both sexes. In a third of infected people, the nervous system is involved in the pathological process, which is manifested by abdominal pain along the nerves.
During pregnancy, HSV can cause early miscarriage or fetal death, the birth of a premature baby, stillbirth, the formation of malformations, etc.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV infection).
One of the main modes of HIV transmission is unprotected sex. Symptoms of the disease are non-specific, appearing several months after infection. A person can be treated for frequent respiratory viral infections, for allergies, to be tired and overwhelmed, without suspecting HIV infection.
HIV destroys the human immune system for several years, leading to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). With AIDS, a person is killed by the simplest infections that his body is no longer able to cope with.
Parents with HIV infection have a chance to have a healthy baby. Only constant medical supervision and treatment can prolong the life of an infected person.
Viral hepatitis is a serious liver disease that can develop in people of any age. The most common viral hepatitis B and C. One of the ways of infection with these infections is the genital tract. Hepatitis B is most often acute, but there are also erased and asymptomatic forms that take a chronic course. There is a vaccination against hepatitis B that begins on the first day of life.
Hepatitis C does not manifest itself for a long time. It can appear by chance during a preventive examination of a person. Cirrhosis and liver cancer are serious complications of hepatitis C leading to the death of the patient.
Some protozoal genital infections
This disease is caused by the simplest organisms - Trichomonas. Very often trichomoniasis goes “hand in hand" with bacterial and fungal sexually transmitted infections, because trichomonads serve as a reservoir for chlamydia, ureaplasma and other flora. Trichomonas, as a rule, affect the urethra and vagina, less often other organs are involved in the process.
The latent period of the disease is about a week. Fresh trichomoniasis is manifested by abundant foamy vaginal discharge in women, mucous discharge from the urethra in men (sometimes with pus or blood), burning and itching in the intimate area, burning and pain during urination in both female and male persons, heaviness in the lower abdomen. Sometimes the disease is asymptomatic, which contributes to the chronicity of the process. The meager symptoms of the disease are characteristic of men. For a long time, the current inflammatory process contributes to the formation of adhesions in the abdominal cavity.
Another form of the disease occurs - Trichomonas carriage, when there are no obvious symptoms and manifestations of infection. Carriers of Trichomonas are a dangerous source of their spread. In treatment, trichomonocidal and other drugs prescribed by a doctor are used.
When treating the mixed process with bactericidal preparations from Trichomonas, the associated flora is released, which helps to maintain inflammation. To recover from this flora, additional treatment is prescribed depending on the specific pathogen.
The complexity of the diagnosis and treatment of genital infections
- Not always modern diagnostic methods allow you to accurately diagnose and identify the pathogen.
- Some diagnostic methods are very expensive and you can’t get them for free in the district clinic.
- You can not do self-diagnosis and self-medication.
- With most STDs, both partners should be treated concurrently, even if only one of them has clinical manifestations of the disease.
- During the treatment of genital infections, you need to suspend sexual activity.
- During the use of certain drugs, you can not take alcohol.
- When treating genital infections, it is important to take not only drugs that kill the pathogen (antibiotics, for example), but also drugs that stimulate the immune system, anti-inflammatory drugs, etc. Their choice is made by the doctor.
- Personal hygiene is very important for successful treatment.
- Be sure to treat asymptomatic forms of the disease in case of their accidental detection.
- Some diseases cannot be cured, and they remain with the person forever.
Dmitry Domarev, General Director of the Docland.ru portal “Treatment Abroad”
Today's abundance of information about sex does not give a teenager an idea of the other side of sexual maturation - the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, which can cause irreparable harm to reproductive health and cause injury to the fragile psyche of a teenager.
The basis for safe behavior of a teenager must be laid in the family. Parents are required to convey to their child the importance of family relationships and the value of a healthy lifestyle. Meanwhile, teachers and medical workers must perform a competent and age-appropriate “information vaccination” for a teenager. This concerns the need for timely knowledge about the risk of STIs: gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, fungal infections, viral hepatitis, HIV. The teenager must have information on measures to prevent sexual infections, clearly represent the risk of unprotected sex and casual relationships.
The importance of prevention education programs cannot be underestimated. The experience of Finland, where the introduction of special educational programs among adolescents, significantly reduced the number of STIs and the number of teenage pregnancies, is very instructive.
Russia also has positive experience in addressing the problem of genital infections in adolescents. In the framework of the target program “Prevention and Control of Social Illnesses”, regional Trust centers have been created where young people under the age of 18 can be tested for sexually transmitted infections for free.
Young people have the right to receive detailed advice about their own health status, and if necessary, undergo free treatment from a qualified doctor. It is important to note that children under 15 years of age are examined with the written consent of the parents or legal representatives of the child. Teens from 15 years old can be tested on the basis of their own voluntary consent. This also applies to paid centers, where the doctor can not conduct an examination and ask questions to a child under 15 years old, without the written consent of the child's parents.
If an adult can receive emergency STI prevention, screening and treatment in paid centers without any obstacles, then the teenager must first be convinced of the importance of informing parents. Given the “delicacy” of the problem, such a situation often becomes intractable. This fact indicates the need for more popularization of information on the work of specialized medical centers for children and adolescents, as well as raising the general awareness of young people about the risks associated with the onset of sexual activity.
Is there a way to determine if your partner has an STD?
Many young people think that they can tell whether a partner has an STD or not, simply by having a visual examination.
Unfortunately, this approach has nothing to do with reality. Most STDs that you can catch as a teenager are completely asymptomatic. There is only one way to make sure that your partner has an STD or not: send him to the doctor’s office and get the appropriate certificate after passing all the tests for the presence of STDs.
How are confidentiality issues resolved for STD testing?
Most states have special laws that allow adolescents to receive reproductive health services, including contraception and STD testing, without parental consent. A teenager who wants to undergo such testing should find out what laws govern this procedure and make sure that the medical institution will not disclose the information to its parents.
When and how to get tested for STDs
Currently, there is a certain percentage of adolescents who begin sex before adulthood. It makes sense for such adolescents (especially sexually active girls) to undergo chlamydia studies annually. There is such a threat as HIV, so you should also not neglect the tests for this disease.
Sexually active adolescents should also be tested for HIV at least once a year. With a positive result for chlamydia, you can also take an analysis for syphilis (although this disease is relatively rare in adolescent environments). If a sexual partner has a positive result for one of the STDs, then the teenager also needs to pass all the tests and pass the necessary tests to detect STDs.
How are STD tests conducted?
A blood test is used to test for HIV, syphilis, herpes, and hepatitis B. For tests for chlamydia or gonorrhea, a urine test is sufficient for both men and women. If the young woman has pelvic pain or difficulty urinating, she must also undergo a gynecological examination.
Treatment of STDs is carried out mainly by a course of antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. The most common STD is chlamydia. In the treatment of chlamydia, azithromycin is usually used. Sometimes you can limit yourself to a single dose of this medicine by mouth. Another drug that is used to treat chlamydia is called doxycycline. The medicine is taken twice a day for seven days.
In the treatment of gonorrhea, a drug called ceftriaxone is used.
In the treatment of syphilis, a course of penicillin injection is prescribed.
Unfortunately, for some viral STDs, there are no treatment methods that can permanently eliminate the disease. So, if you become infected with herpes, then throughout your life you will have a chronic viral infection that will be active for some period of time and be in “sleep” mode for some time. In such cases, people are prescribed certain medications that can eliminate the symptoms of the disease or their severity. Drugs can also reduce the intensity of the virus, which will make a person a carrier of the infection, but it will not be transmitted from it to other people.
Prevention and prevention of STDs
With preventive STDs, one of the best strategies is abstinence. The second option is the use of condoms during sexual intercourse. Condoms are very effective in preventing STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and hepatitis B. You only need to use condoms constantly and for all types of sex: vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex. Another way to prevent STDs is through regular testing to identify these diseases.
Long-term monogamous relationships are also a reliable way to avoid STDs. Mutual monogamy means that a person agrees to be sexually active with only one partner who has expressed the same agreement with him. When you or your partner are diagnosed with STDs, you should undergo a full examination and ask your doctor how long you should refrain from sex so that your organisms are completely cleansed of the infection.
Vaccination is another way you can protect yourself from STDs. Currently, there are effective vaccines for hepatitis B and some other sexually transmitted diseases, in particular human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV vaccination is recommended for teenage girls, as some strains of this virus are very similar to strains that cause cervical cancer. In addition, HPV is common among adolescents who have an active sex life (had more than two partners).
How reliable is a condom against STDs?
A condom cannot provide 100% reliability against all sexually transmitted diseases. At the same time, the quality of condoms, and, accordingly, the degree of their protection can also be different. It is best to use latex or polyurethane products that are more expensive. It is also important for adolescents to understand that a condom must be worn on the penis as soon as an erection occurs.
Due to the physiological characteristics of the young body, the process of ejaculation can happen unexpectedly quickly, and this is the risk of an STD or an unplanned pregnancy. It is also important to explain to teenagers how to use a condom correctly, as many of them, unfortunately, have a rather vague idea about this.
The author of the article: Margarita Degtyareva, "Moscow Medicine" ©
Denial of responsibility: The information presented in this article about STDs in adolescents is for information only. However, it cannot be a substitute for consultation with a professional doctor.