Let’s Talk About Sexual Health

(ASHLEY) I’m not in
a monogamous relationship and I just want to make sure
I’m protecting myself. (DEIJA) I don’t have
a boyfriend but I do sometimes
see someone I like. (MADELINE) I like boys and girls
but I am not sexually active. (EDRIC)
Because I’m sexually active I get myself tested
every three months. I think your doctor’s a
good person to talk to about sexual health
because they can help you as far as doing
an assessment of your risk. Your doctor can be
a partner in your journey during your teenage years. It’s the physician’s
responsibility to make sure that we take a
complete and comprehensive sexual history on all patients. But for teenagers,
I do it with every visit. I say, “Is everything okay, do we have any needs
in regards to sexual health?” Sexual health is about having a positive and respectful
and responsible approach to sexuality
and a relationship. You can’t tell if your
partner has an STD just by looking at them. Most STDs
don’t have any symptoms, so a good way to have a safe
and healthy sexual relationship is to go with your partner and
get tested before you have sex. A sexually transmitted disease can be passed on from
one person to the next through any type
of sexual contact. Typically penile,
vaginal, sexual contact or it may be even passed on
through skin-to-skin contact. I know sometimes people feel
that oral sex is much safer, but you can still contract
STDs that way as well. STDs, from oral sex? (DR. WIMBERLY) Yes, yes. (RENEE JENKINS)
The person at risk for getting a sexually
transmissible infection is anybody who has
unprotected sex. We try to, first of all, encourage young people
not to have sex. But for those who
choose to have sex, ways to prevent STDs,
are going to be to use condoms, amongst teenagers that’s
a very common method, but not only using a condom, but knowing how
to use the condom. I had had a sexual experience
with my first partner and I was like,
I need to tell the doctor. And I know they’re going to ask
if it was with a female or male, and I needed to be honest. It was scary. My doctor was very cool. She actually calmed me down. She was like, it’s okay; I see that kind of thing
all the time. So when was the last time
you had sex? It was about a month ago. Okay, do you have sex with
males, females or both? Males. Okay. It’s important at the onset of the relationship
with the patient, to tell them that I know that
things may be embarrassing. I’m going to meet you
where you are as you are, and appreciate that. When I went to a
general checkup for my doctor it was the first time I talked
about sex or asked about sex. So I was nervous about asking and the reason I asked was
because I was very curious. She asked
if I was sexually active, if I was dating
a boy or a girl. And I said I am not currently
sexually active and I like boys and girls, but I do not have
a boyfriend or a girlfriend. I teach physicians all the time about being as
nonjudgmental as possible, especially when you’re
talking about sex. When I spoke to my doctor,
I had a negative experience. I had a new partner
and we used protection but I developed,
like a rash, and I just felt like I should
go get it checked out. And, she looked at it
and she said, “If it looks like a duck
and it quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.” And I just felt like that
was really inappropriate; like I left the appointment
crying because I was so upset, and finally they called me
back to get my actual results and they were negative. If your doctor is judgmental
when you bring it up, then you really
need to think about if that is the
provider for you. When I go into the room I say everything that we’re going
to talk about in this room, once the parent or guardian
steps out, is confidential, unless I think
that you’re going to harm yourself or others. I encourage all physicians
to have policies that are posted
in their office, to talk about what are
the confidentiality issues. Confidentiality is
really important because I know that
if I were to be having sex and my mom was informed,
I would be like, I’m never going to talk
to you ever again. So there has to be trust. If anyone finds it hard to talk about sexual health
with their parents, then they should
definitely talk to a doctor. Now when I talk to my doctor
about sexual health, I really don’t have a problem
with it because I developed a good relationship
with my doctor. (EDRIC)
Learning about sexual health
and the issues around it make it easier to talk to
a partner or partners. The more you talk about it, the more comfortable
you get talking about sex. So you can say, “No, that’s going to put us
at risk for HIV, herpes, “gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis. So let’s not do that;
let’s do this instead.” (ELIZABETH TORRONE)
As a young person, you have a right to talk
to your health care provider about your sexual health. You don’t have
to be embarrassed. Your provider
can help you figure out for which STDS
you need to be tested, and also help you figure out
how to protect yourself against getting STDs. (DEIJA) You need to
talk to a person who is experienced in health. It’s like, Duh!

Daniel Yohans

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