Adolescence, which people often refer to as the teenage years, is between 10-20 years of age for females and a little later at around 12-22 for males. The teenage years mark a stage during which the body is going through massive changes, including physical, emotional, mental and societal aspects. Teenagers will often feel like they are stuck in the middle, between childhood and adulthood, growing rapidly and going through hormonal adjustments as they enter the reproductive stage of their lives. This is what causes them to become more interested in the opposite sex, wanting to experience new and exciting activities independently.
Nowadays, unwanted pregnancies in young people are a serious issue, as is the increasing prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, since this is a stage during which youngsters find it hard to control themselves. They are often oblivious to the future consequences of their actions and do not take the necessary precautions. Nevertheless, there are techniques available that can reduce the risks and help young people with advice for engaging in safe sex. All that is asked is for teenagers to learn and understand the best way to protect themselves.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) refer to health disorders passed from one person to another via sexual intercourse. There are a myriad of sexually transmitted diseases that teenagers should be aware of. Otherwise they could be placing themselves at risk of contagious diseases that could have potentially life-threatening consequences. Some of the diseases are:
This is a method of protection which most people are already aware of due to its simplicity, convenience and effectiveness. Wearing a condom during intercourse can prevent against pregnancy and the transmission of STDs. Moreover, there are now condoms available for women, which must be inserted into the vagina, but these are not yet popular in Thailand. Therefore, it is hoped that the Thai youth or teenage girls begin to learn about this technique as it can also offer high levels of protection.
The reason why condoms are seen as so effective is due to the protection they offer against the male sperm entering the female body. Condoms made from natural rubber are also of high quality, meaning they do not break or split easily during sex. Condoms are readily available at affordable prices and do not pose any risk to the user’s health whatsoever.
It is generally the females who are more likely to use this form of protection, with such drugs usually consisting of multi-hormonal or single hormone supplements that prevent ovulation taking place. Alternatively, some such drugs thicken mucus of the cervix to stop the male sperm from being able to penetrate through to meet the female egg, while they may also make the endometrium unsuitable for fertilization, thereby protecting the woman against becoming pregnant. The most popular forms of contraceptive medication are courses of pills which last 21 or 28 days.
This method is only suitable for emergency situations when unprotected sex has taken place or after some other urgent cases, such as when a condom has broken or split during sex. The course of medication consists of two pills, one to be taken immediately after sex or within the first 24 hours, and the second one to be taken 12 hours afterwards to ensure the utmost efficacy. One week after the course of two pills has been completed, the woman will experience her period. Emergency contraceptive drugs may have some unwanted side effects, such as vomiting and dizziness. If these or any other irregular symptoms occur, seek urgent medical treatment.
This era of rapid and simple communications means that teenagers are now able to organize meetings and get together more easily than ever before. The increase in teenage sex is an inevitable consequence. Therefore, where teenagers can protect themselves using the aforementioned methods, it can help them avoid unwanted pregnancies and provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Nevertheless, whichever method of contraception is being used, none of them offers 100% protection. Always be sure that intercourse is taking place with consent from both parties, at a suitable age, with both sides fully cognizant of how best to protect themselves.
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, 1984