In my new role as a Family Planning Assistant, I have been speaking with teens about their reproductive health nearly every day.It never ceases to amazes me what teens do, or rather don’t, know about sex.
At the beginning of each consult, I have to ask a series of questions about the teen’s sexual health and history. I was surprised to see that many of them claimed to used condoms, at least sometimes. However, something that was a little disturbing to discover was that most of them did not know what “STI” stood for. After explaining the acronym as sexually transmitted diseases, many still weren’t sure what I was talking about. So while they know to use condoms for pregnancy prevention, they do not know the risks involved for catching a disease because they weren’t using a condom. Fortunately, I have been given the opportunities to further explain it to them. For every teen that comes to our clinic, they are given free birth control and STI testing. It makes me really happy when many of them opt for all the testing, and leave the clinic with a bag filled with a years worth of contraceptives and condoms. It excites me to know a difference is being made. Teens know they can come to our clinic and get the help they need, even when they are afraid to turn anywhere else. The first question teens usually ask is if we are going to tell their parents they came in. It just goes to show that lines of communication must be made if parents want to stay involved in their children’s lives, and more importantly, their reproductive health care.