Holy Hormones Journal: It is about time an article like this gets published to bring attention to the fact that we are doing such a disservice to adolescents and teens about their sexual health. Especially in this country where we have so politicized the topic that we are in denial that our kids are having sex. Wouldn’t it be better to prepare and empower these kids so they can make intelligent choices, then deny them information so they go out and experiment and make stupid mistakes?
Information and services about sexuality and sexual health education unavailable to many teens
Published on May 28, 2013, at 6:03 AM
Young people are demanding information and education about their bodies, sex, their sexuality and sexual health, as well as access to services that will support them to stay safe and healthy. Papers published in the latest themed issue of Reproductive Health Matters (RHM) demonstrate that information and services, in fact, remain unavailable to many young people, and many may grow up without fully understanding things that they are currently experiencing such as menstruation, let alone preparing themselves for future sexual relationships and adulthood.
In some cases, misinformation is being disseminated or reinforced by the very people who are entrusted with young people’s care. For example, those living with HIV whose caregivers are telling them, or allowing them to believe, that they will not be able to have sexual relationships. In fact, several papers demonstrate the power of families, and communities reinforcing the status quo and resisting change; sometimes actively colluding in, condoning, and encouraging harmful conventions such as early marriage, coercive and transactional sex.
The importance and needs of adolescents have been addressed in programmes of action, policy documents, conventions, conference resolutions, and task force recommendations over recent years. However, as one paper sets out thoroughly, policies are often not backed with appropriate action. In the words of Editor Marge Berber, there are ‘miles to go and promises to keep’.
A paper from the UK looks at how 20 young women who had discontinued use of the contraceptive implant experienced a conflict between contraception as bodily control and as fertility control. They had discontinued the method due to unacceptable side effects that they interpreted as a threat to their bodily control, which they decided they were not prepared to tolerate. These feelings were exacerbated if they then encountered delays after requesting removal. Although they remained concerned to avoid unintended pregnancy, they generally moved to a less reliable form of contraception following implant removal and felt discouraged from trying other long-acting contraception. The paper suggests that contraceptive choice should include facilitating the discontinuation of unsatisfactory methods and access to alternatives young women are willing to try.