Getting Real With Shadra Bruce
Sexually transmitted diseases are nothing to joke about. You need to make sure you understand the risks of STDs so that you can intelligently talk to your teen about them. The more matter-of-fact you can be about the reality of the risks, the more likely they’ll be to listen (even if they pretend they aren’t).

With more than 20 STDs out there to wreck your life and millions of infected people – some of whom will show absolutely NO symptoms, it’s incredibly important to talk to your kids about safe sex, condoms, and making good choices (which include understanding that emotionally, they may not be ready for sex even if they feel ready physically and that waiting is ok).

Learn more about how to have the talk with your kids.

Gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that may cause a slight discharge from the vagina, penis, or anus. Gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics but if it goes untreated it can lead to sterility and other serious complications.

Chlamydia. Chlamydia, often referred to as a “silent epidemic” is extremely common but may have virtually no symptoms. Another STD that is curable with a round of the right antibiotics, it can be devastating if left untreated.

Syphilis. Syphilis begins with a blister, usually painless, that heals on its own. It can be treated with antibiotics, but because that initial symptom is often missed, it can spread through the body and ravage the organs.

Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is one of the most common STDs in the United States, with estimates of ONE in every THREE people infected. The virus can cause genital warts but certain strains also cause cervical cancer.

Herpes. Herpes has no cure and can be passed to your partner even when you do not have the recurring sores that appear in the genital region. There are therapies available that minimize the symptoms, but once you have herpes, you will be dealing with it for your life.

Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Hepatitis can severely damage the liver. There is treatment, but the treatment itself has such serious side effects that it is sometimes not worth it.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is the precursor to AIDS. This virus literally kills the body’s immune system, leaving your body incapable of defending itself against most infections from which a healthy person can easily recover. AIDS has no cure and will result in death.

Even the most careful people can sometimes be put at risk. If you think you or your teen may have been exposed to an STD, you can go to a clinic if you are not comfortable going to your own physician for treatment. To prevent from getting STDs, ALWAYS wear condoms, dental dams and other prophylactics to prevent the exchange of bodily fluids, and never have sexual contact with someone you aren’t in a committed relationship with.