Parents, it may be a difficult topic to bring up with your child(ren), but it’s vital that girls have comprehensive knowledge about all aspects of sex when reaching their teenage years. Use this article as a guide to educating them about the potential consequences of having unsafe sex and how they can protect themselves from STIs and teenage pregnancy.
Practicing safe sex: birth control options
One of the most common types of birth control is a short-acting method form of contraception known as the Pill.
Please note that there are different types of female contraceptives:
- Short-acting: The combined Pill (commonly known as the Pill); Progestogen-only pill; injection; patch
- Long-acting: Implant; Copper IUD (Intrauterine device)
- Barrier methods: Male and female condoms
- Emergency contraception: Morning-after pill
For more information, please read our article explaining all of the different types of female contraception.
The difference between HIV and AIDS
HIV is a virus
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which attacks your immune system causing it to deteriorate and work less effectively than it should. This leaves you vulnerable to contracting other illnesses and infections. Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure for HIV, but it can be controlled by taking antiretrovirals (ARVs).
AIDS is a syndrome
HIV can lead to the development of a condition called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The symptoms of AIDS are connected to the infection(s) you may have developed, which your body is unable to fight because of your weakened immune system; common infections include tuberculosis (TB), pneumonia and certain cancers.
Sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) can be spread through the exchange of infected bodily fluids, e.g. semen, vaginal fluids and blood. However, STIs can also be contracted through skin-to-skin contact, e.g. HPV.
Aside from the potential of contracting STIs, lack of knowledge about contraceptive methods can lead to unintended pregnancy, which is a life-changing, both physically and emotionally, for any woman, let alone teenagers.
The more teens know about sex, the safer they will be physically and mentally. There’s no need to feel embarrassed talking about sex.
How Marie Stopes can help
We can help educate teens about what they need to know about sex. If you are worried that you may have a sexually transmitted disease, we offer HIV and STI testing and will provide you with any support you may need. Furthermore, if you feel there’s a possibility you may be pregnant, we also offer a pregnancy care service that will give you a definite answer.
If you are pregnant and wish to terminate the pregnancy, you don’t have to feel scared or embarrassed. Remember, you have the right to safe abortion, which can be performed at our clinics.
In South Africa, we operate 17 centres across seven provinces and are a Section 21 non-profit organisation recognised for the quality of our clinical services and our non-judgmental, client-friendly approach.