Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect over 12 million Americans every year and many of them are teens. Unfortunately, approximately half of sexually active teenagers will have contracted an STD, including genital herpes, before their 25th birthday. Worse, a lot of them won’t even know it because most STDs don’t have symptoms and the only way to find out is to get tested. People contract STDs via skin to skin contact during oral sex or sexual intercourse.
Once someone’s contracted herpes, they’ll have the virus for the rest of their life. There are medications that help the herpes sores heal faster and they can also decrease the risk of infection to sexual partners if the medication is taken daily. The medications can also lessen the frequency of the outbreaks.
Possible Health Related Risks
Herpes infections can increase the chances of getting HIV. In addition, pregnant women that have herpes can pass it on to their infants during birth, causing severe health issues in some cases. In rare cases, herpes can spread to the brain and spinal cord.
Why Teens Are At Risk
Sexual Habits – According to KidsHealth, teens are much more likely to have multiple sex partners, especially if they start having sexual intercourse at a young age. The more sexual partners they have, the greater the risk of contracting STD’s like herpes. It’s important that teenagers understand that the only way to protect themselves from spreading STDs is by wearing a condom every time they have sex.
Drugs and Alcohol – When teenagers take drugs or consume alcohol, their judgment is affected, and this often leads to an unplanned pregnancy and/or STDS. One of the reasons is that if they’ve been drinking or taking drugs, they’re much less likely to have the presence of mind to stop before it’s too late or to remember to use a condom.
Fear and Embarrassment – Teenage girls are more prone to STDs because they don’t feel comfortable or self-confident enough to ask their partner to use a condom. On the other hand, teenage boys often feel uncomfortable admitting that they carry condoms with them because it makes them look like they make it a habit to have multiple sexual partners. To avoid embarrassment, a lot of teens avoid the “protection” conversation all together and have unprotected sex. The important thing to remember is that knowledge is power and to relay to the teenagers in your life that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Education Is The Key
One of the primary reasons that teenagers are more prone to genital herpes and other STDs is a lack of education. When parents and/or educators don’t teach teens about STDs and the damages they can cause, they can’t fully comprehend how having unprotected sex can impact their lives.