Archive for abstinence

What are the top three ways to prevent getting an STI?

First of all, great job taking charge of your sexual health and getting important information!

STI stands for sexually transmitted infection. Teen Clinic chooses to use the word infection instead of disease. The term disease can imply a clear medical problem with obvious signs or symptoms. However, most sexually transmitted infections have no signs or symptoms, so we prefer the word infection.

It’s good to know that when it comes to STIs, there are four modes of transmission.  They are…

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Skin to skin contact

In order for someone to contract an STI, they would need to engage in sexual activity with a person who already has an STI in which one or more of these modes would come into play. Although STIs can be common, remember that they are preventable!

STIs can be transmitted through oral sex, anal sex, and vaginal sex. Many people think that because oral sex isn’t necessarily penetration, there is little to no risk. But the fact is, you can get all STIs (except for pubic lice) when engaging in oral sex with someone who has the infection.

But the good news is that there are ways to prevent STI transmission from happening! Using a condom for oral sex on a penis will help drastically reduce your risk of transmitting an STI.  If oral sex is being performed on the vagina or anus, a dental dam can be used to help reduce your risk also! You can pick up free condoms and dental dams at Teen Clinic!

Female (or internal) condoms and male (or external) condoms will also help reduce STI transmission during anal or vaginal sex.

If you are engaging in any sexual activity where sperm may come in contact with the vagina, in addition to the possibility of contracting an STI, there is also risk of pregnancy when having unprotected sex. Because both the risk of contracting an STI and/or pregnancy are so high, it’s important to use a condom correctly, consistently, and 100% of the time!

It’s important to know though that 75% of people with vaginas and 50% of people with penises show no symptoms of the most common infections! So even if you or your partners don’t have any symptoms of an infection, it’s still a good idea to get tested periodically.  Some people get tested every time they have a new partner, every 6 months, or even once a year based on their risk factors. You can test for STIs 14 days after sex to get an accurate result.

Remember that the only 100% way to prevent STIs and pregnancy is to practice abstinence. Teen Clinic defines abstinence as refraining from oral, anal, and vaginal sex.

But for someone who is choosing not to practice abstinence, condoms, dental dams, and getting testing regularly will drastically reduce the risk of STI transmission.

To make an appointment at Teen Clinic or to get tested, give us a call the day before you’d like to come in.  All services are either free or low-cost to those under 20.

I’m 14 years old and I want to get on birth control. Do you think if I do get it when I get older I’m still going to be able to have a baby?

…And is it okay for me to do it even though I’m only 14?

This is a great question!

Lets start with your question about being able to receive services while only being 14. In other states you might need parental consent, but 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.

When you make an appointment to get started on a birth control method, your nurse practitioner will help you choose the right method for your body and lifestyle! All of the options that we provide here at Teen Clinic will be safe for your future fertility. Most birth control methods will not affect your ability to get pregnant when you so choose. Some birth control methods can even help to protect your reproductive organs so that you are more likely to be healthy when you do decide that you want to have a baby. If you are sexually active, then a reliable form of birth control is a great way to stay healthy by helping you to avoid unplanned pregnancy until you are ready to be a parent!

We offer many different forms of birth control here at Teen Clinic. Some examples of methods are…

  1. Abstinence– abstaining from oral, vaginal, and anal sex is the only way to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STIs 100% of the time
  2. Condoms, etc.– Male (external) condoms, female (internal) condoms, and dental dams help to reduce your risk of unplanned pregnancy and STIs
  3. Birth Control Pills (estrogen, progesterone, and a combination of both)-  take every day at the same time
  4. Birth Control Patch (Ortho Evra)- change every week
  5. Birth Control Ring (Nuvaring)- change every month
  6. Birth Control Shot (Depo Provera)- receive every 3 months
  7. Birth Control Implant (Nexplanon)-  effective for 3 years
  8. Intrauterine Device/IUD Hormonal (Mirena)-effective for 5 years
  9. Intrauterine Device/IUD Non-hormonal (Paragard)- effective for 10 years

Birth control methods are a good idea to think about when you’re considering having sex. It’s important to know though that birth control methods will only help to reduce your risk of unplanned pregnancy, not STI contraction. Condoms and dental dams are an important part of STI prevention!

Teen clinic offers free condoms and dental dams, and low-cost or free services for starting a birth control method! Make an appointment here and talk to one of our medical professionals about what might be a good birth control choice for you!

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!

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.

I used to masturbate once a day but now want to practice complete abstinence. I mean forever. It’s been three weeks since I last masturbated…

…Any harm in going on forever? I do plan to have a sexual life when mature.

It’s healthy to spend time discovering your own sexual boundaries and interests.  Thanks for asking this great question!

Masturbation can be a safe way to explore your body and learn more about your sexual likes and dislikes.  Masturbation doesn’t come with a risk of STI transmission or pregnancy, and it doesn’t require the same communication skills as being sexually active with someone else. Masturbation also won’t damage or harm your body in any way.

However, the most important part of your sexuality is you! If you feel uncomfortable masturbating during this point in your life, abstaining is a healthy solution. Choosing not to masturbate won’t damage your body either!

Consider talking to a trusted adult about your situation if you need a little extra support. If you’re not sure who to turn to, Teen Clinic can be a great, confidential place to talk about sexual decision making with a medical professional.

I am having symptoms of an STI but haven’t had sex. Is this possible?

STIs are transmitted four ways: through blood exchange, fluid exchange, skin to skin contact, and from mother to child (during breastfeeding or vaginal birth).  Unless you have recently had genital contact or fluid exchange with someone who is infected, it’s unlikely you have an STI.

However, some females experience natural infections that are unrelated to sexual activity.  Yeast infections and bacterial vaginitis (BV) often share the same symptoms as bacterial STIs: itching, burning, unusual discharge, and/or change in genital odor.  They are curable, common, and affect women of all ages.  While males can acquire bacterial and yeast infections, it is less common. Males often expel bacteria or yeast during ejaculation or urination.

Whether you’re male, female, or intersex, see a medical professional and get treated if you are experiencing discomfort of any type.  You can make an appointment for the next Teen Clinic by calling 303-442-5160.