Talking to your teenager about pocket money is an easy discussion, talking about sex, on the other hand… However, the subject of STIs and STDs is not to be taken lightly. Without screening and prevention, it is then difficult to stem the spread of viruses and treat infections in time. This is why education and awareness of the various STIs and STDs are essential at the start of sexual life.
First of all, let's remember the difference between STIs and STDs. The first refers to sexually transmitted infections, while the second refers to diseases. However, the Ministry of Health now recommends using only the acronym IST. Teenagers are particularly affected by STIs. Especially since nearly 60% of them do not follow their treatment correctly following an infection.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that causes the disease AIDS. It can be kept in the body for several years without any symptoms before it develops, while being contagious. It is transmitted by semen, but also blood and vaginal secretions. Although you can live with the virus, there is currently no treatment that can cure HIV.
It is the most common STI in young people. It concerns both girls and boys. This STI is transmitted very easily, even during intimate caresses with the hands. Chlamydiae often have no symptoms that allow them to be detected. Untreated, they can nevertheless have serious consequences, including infertility in girls.
It is a family of around 100 viruses that attack different parts of the body. These viruses can cause lesions such as warts which, if left untreated, can lead to cervical cancer, among other things.
Herpes is a highly contagious virus. Once the person is infected, they do not necessarily realize it. However, once in the body, the virus stays there for life. You can then pass it on to your partners. Herpes attacks are manifested by painful and red blisters in the mouth, eyes and sexual organs, even itching and fever. They usually appear in times of fatigue or stress.
Hepatitis B is a virus that causes liver infection, which can lead to cancer. It is extremely contagious. During contamination, no symptoms are to be reported. However, months later, there are muscle pains, great fatigue, a yellow complexion and headaches. It can be cured without treatment, or the virus can turn into chronic hepatitis and lead to cirrhosis.
Note:all the STIs mentioned above weaken the mucous membranes; they therefore increase the risk of HIV infection.
A doubt about a treatment? A question about STIs?
If in doubt, don't panic and have the teleconsultation reflex! 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, a doctor will answer your questions and those of your teenagers about STIs, their symptoms, prevention and treatments.
Raising awareness among adolescents is essential. Adolescence generally corresponds to the entry into sexual life. It is therefore important for them to know the risks and preventive measures concerning STIs and STDs before their first sexual experiences.
STIs are not a taboo:it is important to desacralize the subject with your children. Thus, if your teenager entrusts you one day to be concerned, it will be able to open up more easily to you. Especially since most STIs are easily treated if they are detected in time. If your teen realizes they are a carrier, they will be prescribed treatment by a doctor. It is also important to tell him to warn his sexual partner(s) so that they too can be tested and, if necessary, treated. A not always easy step for them, where your support will be most important.
There are various sources of information accessible to young people, especially on the internet:
STIs and STDs are transmitted during sexual intercourse and contact between the mucous membranes, that is to say during vaginal, anal and oral penetration, but also during simple caresses. Indeed, some infections can be transmitted by the hands. To protect yourself during these reports, it is therefore imperative to use a condom:this applies to penetration, but also fellatio. Regarding cunnilingus and rimming, it is the dental dam that must be used. The condom therefore remains, to this day, the only means of protection against STIs and STDs. Remember that it is also used as a means of contraception.
How to bring up the topic :after a discussion with your child, you can leave a kit with condoms freely available, or store them in a drawer in the bathroom, with leaflets and information documents gleaned from the doctor.
For some STIs, it is possible to get vaccinated, such as for hepatitis B and the papillomavirus. These are done with a general practitioner, for both boys and girls for the first, and only for girls for the second.
How to bring up the topic :at the end of a compulsory booster vaccination, you can approach the subject of vaccinations for STIs by explaining to them the benefits of vaccination and the risks associated with these infections.
Testing is the only way to know if you are a carrier of STIs and STDs. If you have taken risks during unprotected sex, it is imperative to go get tested. Screening is also necessary when you want to stop using condoms with a regular partner:both must then be tested to be sure that they are not carriers of a disease.
How to bring up the topic :you can for example tell your children about your own experience of screening, how it went when you went there.
Where and when to get tested?
Free and anonymous screening for STIs and STDs is possible with private analysis laboratories, free information, screening and diagnosis centers (CeGIDD), Family Planning or Maternal and Child Protection ( PMI). It consists of a simple blood test, supplemented by a vaginal sample for girls.
Condoms, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases:all these subjects should not be taboo! Talking about it openly with adolescents and opening up a dialogue is the only way to make them aware of the risks of STIs and the right behaviors to adopt.