Education is first step toward sexual health

sexual health image

Most teenagers tend to shy away from any sort of discussion surrounding the topic of sexual health. However, although it may feel a little awkward, it is crucial to talk about sexual health in general and more specifically sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in order to understand how they are spread and what can be done to prevent them. 

Along with being educated about STDs in order to prevent contracting them, another reason it is essential for teenagers to be educated about STDs is to keep false rumors from spreading. Information about made-up STDs often spreads through social media, causing students to become paranoid of contracting rare diseases. This happens when students don’t know the facts and automatically jump to conclusions. By learning about the types of STDs that exist, students can ensure that they don’t fall for these sorts of rumors. 

The “What Goes Around” assembly that the school offers every February is a good opportunity for freshmen and sophomores to learn about STDs and ask questions. All students can also go to the group’s Instagram page @whatgoesaround_theatre and Direct Message them with any questions. 

The GHC health office is also a great source of information. Students can drop by during nutrition or lunch to talk to the nurse about STDs and ask questions. The health office also has numerous informative pamphlets available. 

There are also both community and global resources students can access to educate themselves about STDs. Planned Parenthood and are good sources to use if one has questions about STDs or wants to know if they have contracted one. In addition to this, the school offers lots of resources to help educate students about sexual health. For instance, the GHC administration confirmed that they will be updating their health classes to meet the California Health and Youth Act, so students will be able to learn a lot more about STDs in school. 

It is important to note that all these sources, as well as most sexual health services, are confidential so there is no need to worry about anyone else finding out about the questions you ask whether you have an STD or are just curious. 

Because STDs are so common, it is so important to use effective protection, such as a condom, if one is planning on being sexually active. Condoms are the only birth control method that prevent the spread of STDs, although they are not 100 percent effective. The school health office confidentially offers free latex condoms to all students, meaning they will not notify the student’s parent or guardian. 

Here is some information about three of the most common STDs.

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in America, with 1.7 million cases reported in 2018 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It is spread through sexual activity but can also be spread by touching your eye with infected fluids on your hand. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection causing unusual discharge and burning while urinating. It is treated with antibiotics. 

Gonorrhea is another common STD in America. The CDC estimates that there are 1.14 million new cases of people contracting the disease every year, half of which are people ages 15-24. Gonorrhea is also a bacterial infection spread through sexual activity, often contracted along with chlamydia with similar symptoms. It is also treated with antibiotics.

Herpes is another one of the most common STDs due to the fact that it can be transmitted in multiple ways through saliva and skin to skin contact, not just through sexual activity. Sharing vape pens, for example, can result in the spread of herpes, leading to the formation of cold sores as well as other symptoms. Of course, herpes can also circulate through sexual activity.  

The most common symptoms of herpes are sores on the genitals or mouth, though often there are no symptoms at all. While there is no cure for herpes, there are medicines that can shorten or prevent outbreaks.

More than 50 percent of Americans have oral herpes and about one in eight Americans ages 14 to 49 have genital herpes according to the American Sexual Health Association.

Asking questions and learning about STDs is nothing to be ashamed of. Talking about STDs is the best way to prevent the spread of them.