Healthy Living Blog- Sexuality and Relationship Education for Teens
Adolescence is a period where teens physically and emotionally mature into adults. Puberty happens at the beginning of adolescence. Puberty hormones cause the body to sexually mature. Puberty can also cause pre-teens and teens to become more curious about sex. It’s important that adolescents receive inclusive sex education (that includes LGBTQ+ youth) about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), safer sex practices, and healthy relationships.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Having unprotected sex comes with risks such as unplanned pregnancy and getting an STI. About half of all new STI cases are in teens and young adults ages 15-24. Here are some common STIs that teens could get:
- Genital herpes
- Genital warts
Sexually active teens should get tested often to stay healthy and not spread an STI to another sexual partner.
Safer sex practices
If teens decide to have sex, they should be safe to prevent pregnancy and STIs. Parents can talk about this with their teens. Also, both teens and their parents can talk with a doctor about how to have safer sex, which includes:
- Abstinence, which means not having sex at all, is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and STIs.
- Using condoms. Condoms give great protection from both pregnancy and STIs. To get the most protection, use condoms correctly every time during sex. Gay and bisexual teen boys should always use condoms to lower their risk of getting infected with HIV.
- Using prescription birth control. Birth control helps prevent teen pregnancy. Teen girls and their parents should talk to a doctor to choose the best option for them. Birth control options include:
- Hormonal pill
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- Vaginal ring
Adolescents may also have a lot of questions about dating and romance along with learning about sex. Having healthy relationships can help teens make positive relationships as adults because they can learn about good social skills and grow emotionally.
Healthy dating and romantic relationships have these basic features:
- Both partners respect each other and their boundaries.
- Both partners communicate.
- Both partners practice good problem solving.
It’s possible that teens may find themselves in unhealthy relationships, which can lead to teen dating violence. Dating violence can be emotional, physical, and/or sexual violence. Teens that are in unhealthy, violent, or abusive relationships are more likely to face depression and anxiety and/or have suicidal thoughts. They are also more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs.
- LGBTQ+ teens are more likely than straight teens to experience teen dating violence. They are at a high risk of experiencing mental health problems because it might be harder for them to seek help and support because of their identity.
Have questions or curious to learn more? Please reach out to our Health Center or HOPE program and make an appointment to speak with a doctor. AACI provides services in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and many other languages. Call (408) 975-2763 to schedule your appointment today!