There are approximately 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases each year, and one quarter of these infections occur in teenagers who have not yet finished high school.
While AIDS is certainly the best known of the sexually transmitted diseases, it's very important that your teen know that there are other STDs that are highly communicable, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, pediculosis pubis (crabs), scabies, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and venereal warts.
Several of these infections can be extremely serious (some can eventually cause sterility in either males or females; others cause chronic pain and discomfort), and even life-threatening. What's more, several kinds of STDs, including herpes, syphilis, pharyngeal gonorrhea, and AIDS, can be contracted without having genital intercourse, as they can be spread orally.
Symptoms that may reflect STD in a sexually active person include:
- Painful, burning, or dark-colored urine
- Discharges from the vagina or penis that burn, itch, or have an unusual odor
- Soreness, sores, warts, redness, or a persistent pimple in the genital area
STDs can be totally avoided through abstinence or by having a mutually monogamous relationship with an unaffected person. Having multiple sex partners greatly increases the risk of contracting STDs.
If your teenager is sexually active, stress that a condom with spermicide is the best protection against STDs. Also stress that your teen should tell you or his doctor immediately if he notices any of the symptoms mentioned above.