As the years go by we have more of an external influence, than an internal influence with our youth about sexual intercourse/health. Everywhere you look there is a subliminal message seeping into our subconscious influencing us sexually, while our peers are too uncomfortable to relay the proper messages directly. We have an increase of activity within our estrogen receptors thanks to the processed foods and the materials we eat those foods in, causing hormones to spiral rapidly at younger ages than usual. Needless to say we are bombarded with the idea of acting on such hormones without sufficient education to be aware of the risks, (i.e. STDS). In 2016, Americans were infected with more than 2 million new cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia, the highest number of these sexually transmitted diseases ever reported according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Beside those three, along with HIV cases which are required to be reported to the CDC each year, they’ve estimated that there are more than 20 million new cases of STDs in the US. At least half occur in young people ages 15-24.
Chlamydia is one the most common diseases easily transmitted through all forms of sexual activity; vaginal, oral, and anal—as well as through childbirth. Most people have no symptoms, meaning it usually goes untreated, ultimately causing a pelvic inflammatory disease that can scar and affect fertility in women. In men, it can cause testicular pain and swelling. Gonorrhea can also be a silent infection but usually is accompanied with burning during urination and vaginal or penile discharge. If caught anally, it can create itching, bleeding and painful bowel movements. If not treated, gonorrhea can cause severe and permanent health problems, including long-term pain and infertility. Although Syphilis was once less prevalent in our country, it has now become once again a harmful, potentially deadly disease on the rise. It can easily be mistaken for other disease due to its wide range of symptoms which include rashes and chancres, or sores, fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, headaches, muscles aches and fatigue. As the disease progresses, the symptoms go away, and progress silently to it’s most deadly stage.
What makes matters worse is that sexual education is on a decline in the US, according to an analysis of survey data from 2006 to 2013. “The declines in formal sex education we observed since 2006 are distressing, but unfortunately are part of a longer term retreat from sex education, especially instruction about birth control methods,” said lead study author Laura Duberstein Lindberg of The Guttmacher Institute in New York. The researchers used interviews taken from nationwide household surveys administered continuously between 2006 and 2010 and between 2011 and 2013, focusing on respondents aged 15 to 19 years. The analysis included responses from about 2,000 teen boys and 1,000 teen girls in each wave of surveys.In the 2006 to 2010 surveys, 70 percent of girls and 61 percent of boys said they had received formal instruction about birth control, which dropped to 60 percent and 55 percent, respectively, in the 2011 to 2013 surveys.Girls also reported less formal education on STDs, HIV and AIDS prevention, and saying no to sex over time. Both girls and boys reported more formal education in saying no to sex without instruction about birth control in the second survey wave, the researchers report in the Journal of Adolescent Health. As of 2013, fewer than 5% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students aged 13–21 reported that their health classes had included positive representations of LGBT-related topics.
We have an increase in sexual interest and activity due to many reasons, yet we also have funding cutbacks for prevention, education and healthcare programs, and an overwhelming amount of social media influence that have all contributed to the rise. Young adults are not only less educated on the topic, but more influenced by it, causing an increase of vulnerability. Adults on the other hand, should learn to be more pro-active when it comes to their own indulgence and advocate for their offsprings’ sexual health as well. It’s time to start having the conversation and being more conscious about who we lay down with so that we can start utilizing prevention methods.
Featured photo credit: medicaldaily.com