Author Archive for lisa@bvwhc.org

I’m 14 and I think my testicles are small. Do you think something is wrong like a disease?

Thanks for writing in! It’s great that you’re paying attention to your body.  However, know that everyone’s bodies are different. People may go through puberty at different ages or different speeds. At age fourteen, it’s possible your body hasn’t yet finished maturing. It’s also possible that it has. Try to love your body no matter what it looks like!

If you are concerned about your development, it’s a good idea to go see a medical professional. There are a few conditions that can cause small testicles; however, they are not reversible, so it’s still important to embrace yourself exactly as you are. Learn more about your family history, and make sure you have some trusted adults you can talk to.  And know that people prefer all different types of bodies, too—your testicle size doesn’t mean you can’t experience a healthy, happy sexuality!

I had unprotected anal sex in the lake about two days ago, then today I’ve had a little bit of bloody discharge. Am I pregnant?

Pregnancy is possible whenever semen enters the vagina. If semen accidentally got into the vagina during anal sex, yes, there would be a risk for pregnancy. It’s best to know for sure–take a pregnancy test ten days after the unprotected sex. (And consider visiting Teen Clinic to start a reliable birth control method soon!)  However, know that semen coming in contact with the anus does not cause pregnancy.

While unprotected anal sex is considered low-risk for pregnancy, it is high-risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections. That’s because the lining of the anus is very fragile and can tear during sexual activity. The discharge you are experiencing may be a sign of infection, or it could be related to an anal fissure. It’s a good idea to make an appointment at Teen Clinic if you are experiencing pain or if the bleeding continues.

In the future, Teen Clinic recommends using condoms 100%—this can help set your mind at ease. There are also ways to decrease the risks of discomfort or tearing during anal sex—check out this question to learn more. Thanks for checking in!

Can a girl get pregnant if she gives oral sex?

Pregnancy is possible whenever semen enters the vagina. Generally, performing oral sex on a penis does not carry a risk for pregnancy because semen does not enter the vagina. To be clear, semen in the mouth cannot cause pregnancy; in order for pregnancy to occur, the semen would have to enter the vagina (whether on the penis, hands, or another body part).

While oral sex doesn’t carry a risk for pregnancy, some STIs can transmit through oral sex. Herpes and HPV spread through skin-to-skin contact, while chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis B can spread through sexual fluids. If you do choose to be sexually active, consider using condoms 100%, talking to your partner, and getting tested regularly to reduce your risk. Thanks for asking this important question!

Can my parents make me get a pelvic exam?

Great question! The short answer is no.  Here’s the long answer:  in Colorado, the law says that minors have the right to access sexual healthcare without the consent or notification of their parents. That means they can start a birth control method or get tested for STIs without their parents being involved at all. In fact, it’s illegal for clinics to share sexual health information with parents (or anyone else!) without an individual’s permission.

Since you have the right to access these services, you also have the right not to!  At Teen Clinic, patients who come in against their own wishes will not be seen. We will only run tests or perform examinations that are medically necessary and desired by the patient—you!

It’s totally understandable if your parents are worried about you, or want to make sure you have good care.  That’s their job!  Be sure to talk to them about why they want you to have a pelvic examination. Let them know they can give Teen Clinic a call if they want to talk to a nurse. Some medical standards have recently changed; for instance, youth no longer receive pap tests—it’s recommended to begin getting this test at age 21. For this reason, teens usually only get pelvic exams if they are interested in an IUD or have a concern—about STIs, other infections, or their period.

If you do have a concern, come on in! Teen Clinic is here for you—even if you just need support in talking to your parents.

Can you still get an STI even if you haven’t had sex?

In general, sexually transmitted infections are just that—sexually transmitted! If you are not engaging in sexual activity, you are not at risk for STIs.

However, there are a few infections considered STIs that can spread non-sexually.  For instance, pubic lice (also known as Crabs) can be spread through wet towels, loofahs, bedsheets, and wet clothing. Pubic lice can live outside the body for up to 24 hours in locations that are warm, dark, and moist, which makes it easier for them to spread without sexual activity.  Additionally, according to the Center for Disease Control, 4% of all cases of Trichomononiasis are transmitted through hot tubs and wet towels.

Bloodborne STIs—like HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis B & C—can also be spread non-sexually. This most often occurs during IV drug use, medical needle sticks, or blood transfusions that did not receive proper screening.  Again, it’s important to realize these infections would not be considered STIs in this scenario, since they were not spread sexually. (However, if you received them non-sexually, you could still transmit them to others through sexual activity.)

Last, it’s important to be specific about what we mean by “sex.”  If you are engaging in genital to genital contact—even if you are not engaging in penetrative oral, anal, or vaginal sex—you are at risk for some STIs. In particular, HPV, Herpes, Syphilis (when a sore is present), and pubic lice can all spread through skin to skin contact.

If you are experiencing symptoms of an STI but haven’t been sexually active, you may want to read a bit about yeast infections and bacterial vaginitis. These are organic infections—they can occur without being transmitted from anyone—but they can be just as uncomfortable as some STIs. If you are experiencing pain, bleeding, itching, or discharge, make an appointment to see a medical provider soon.

Thanks for asking this (slightly complicated) question!

Do you ever have volunteer opportunities for teens at either location?

Yes! If you are currently in high school, consider joining SHAPE—the Sexual Health and AIDS Awareness Peer Education group. SHAPErs are students from all over Boulder and Broomfield Counties who teach their peers about STIs, birth control, and prevention.  SHAPE participants attend two retreats and bi-monthly meetings, and some opt to give presentations, engage in political advocacy, or connect with other peer education groups throughout the course of the year.  It’s a fun way to get involved in the community and meet other youth!  We are recruiting now: e-mail Sherry at bvwhc dot org for an application!

If you are over 18, you are eligible to volunteer in one of our clinics!  Visit our Women’s Health volunteer page for more information. Unfortunately, we are not able to accept volunteers under 18 in the clinic at this time.

What is the first step after finding out you’re pregnant, but can’t talk to your parents?

Teen Clinic is here for you!  We know it can be scary to learn you’re pregnant.  The first step is to connect with someone you trust who will support you.  Teen Clinic offers free, unbiased decision counseling to help you learn more about your options. You’re welcome to bring your support person with you; we’re also able to meet with your family or partner if you need help having this discussion.

Whether you decide to pursue parenting, consider adoption, or end your pregnancy, Teen Clinic will give you a safe place to connect with the next stepGive us a call to make an appointment with one of our counselors.  And thanks for reaching out!

If I got the Gardasil shot when I was younger, could I still get gonorrhea?

Yep! Gardasil is the vaccine that prevents the most common forms of HPV (the Human Papillomavirus). HPV is a viral STI that spreads through skin to skin contact. It can cause abnormal cell growth, including genital warts and some kinds of cancer.  While it’s awesome that you got this vaccine, know that you’re not protected against all sexually transmitted infections—just the most common strains of HPV!

Gonorrhea is a bacterial STI spread through sexual fluids. There is always a risk of gonorrhea if you choose to be sexually active, but your highest risk is through unprotected vaginal intercourse. Teen Clinic recommends using condoms 100%, and getting tested after any new partners. You can get checked for genital gonorrhea on a walk-in basis at Teen Clinic; all you have to do is leave a urine sample.  It’s important to know that gonorrhea can also be spread from the sexual fluids into the throat; be sure to use condoms during oral sex, and see a medical professional if you are ever experiencing strep-like symptoms.

Learn more about specific sexually transmitted infections here.

Teen Clinic Announces Pricing Changes

Here’s the deal: since we opened in 1995, Teen Clinic has offered free services to thousands of teens.  Every year we see more than 1,500 different people!  But it takes a lot of resources to provide services free of charge—and with the political and economic climate changing, we’re looking for ways to be more sustainable long-term.

On June 1, our prices will be changing—but just a little!

If you are…                                                                            your services…

 Under 18                                                                               Will still be donation-based!

18 or 19                                                                                 May still be donation-based, or

may cost a small flat fee between $0-$50.

See our complete pricing page for details.

If you are over 18, you will now need to bring proof of your income to appointments. This can be a paystub, a recent tax return, a bank statement, or a letter from the people who support you. The amount you will pay depends on how much you make. Don’t forget, Teen Clinic is here for you.  If you are 18 or 19 and you are concerned about cost, please chat with a clinic assistant.

We need your help!  If you are under 18 but you do have access to an income (your parents’ or your own!), leave a donation when you visit Teen Clinic. It’s a great way to make sure your peers can continue to access these life-saving services.  Thanks for giving back! 

 

Can you have sex without loving each other?

This is a really, really important question—and there’s no one answer. Each of us has a different sexuality, and we lead different lives.  At the end of the day, it’s your body—and you have the right to make decisions that work for you.

Making decisions is always tricky—whether we’re picking a college, quitting a sport, experimenting with substances, or deciding on a career path. At heart, making good decisions is about knowing what will enhance your well-being.  What is important to you? What makes you happy? What support do you have? What information do you need? What risks are you willing to take?  What experiences tend to impact you negatively? These questions can help guide you in decisions of all kinds, but they’re especially important in sexuality.

From watching people around you, you probably know that what’s good for one person isn’t necessarily what’s best for another. Sex is a lot like food: someone else may be able to give you helpful information or share an experience, but in the end, it’s up to you to choose the right kind and amount for your body.

What does this all mean? Simply put, some people find that sex outside love contributes to their well-being. Other people don’t.

There are many places we can turn for guidelines. Some people practice a religion that tells them when it’s okay to have sex. Other people may have ongoing discussions with their parents (or other trusted adults) to explore their readiness for different types of sexual activity.  If you’re not sure who to talk to, consider making an appointment at Teen Clinic. Our practitioners can help you explore what you’re okay with and what you’re not.

At Teen Clinic, we think the most important thing is consent. If you’re thinking about being sexually active, make sure you feel safe and healthy in the relationship. Know that you have the right to change your mind at any moment. And if you’re sexually active, be sure to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STIs by using condoms and choosing a reliable birth control method.  These are an important part of well-being, too.