Sex education classes were super awkies, right? But if there was anything they were good for (apart from that hilarious Where Did I Come From? video) it was teaching us about safe sex. We might not have listened in maths, but when we were taught about how condoms can prevent us from catching nasty sexually transmitted infections, we were all ears.
But new research has proved that somewhere along the line, the “protect yourself” message has been lost. Case in point? A study published by US research organisation Child Trends has revealed that in the US, teenagers are starting to date later and are therefore having less sex.
But those who are doing the deed are reporting higher rates of STIs. Under a quarter of teens said they use some form of birth control and alarmingly, less than 40 percent said they use condoms. Sadly, 40 percent of 14 to 19 year old girls who are sexually active reported contracting an STI at some point.
This news makes us seriously sad. Vulnerable teens should not have to deal with an infection that they could potentially carry with them for the rest of their lives. But, what’s really scary is that in Australia STIs are on the rise amongst all young people – not just teens. “Across all age ranges, there’s less protection being used. It’s like we live in an age where we’re given so many warnings that we think we’re invincible and that nothing will happen to us,” explains sex and relationship expert Isiah McKimmie.
In the past decade alone, the rate of women diagnosed with chlamydia has more than tripled – and in 2011, 82 percent of cases of chlamydia were diagnosed in people aged between 15 and 29. So why have young peeps become so allergic to condoms?
“For most people condoms aren’t as pleasurable as skin-on-skin sex, they can reduce sensation for both partners and can be a passion killer,” explains Isiah. “But so is telling someone you have herpes.” True that.
So while you might find it a little difficult to interrupt the moment to grab a condom; it is SO worth it! And remember, just because someone doesn’t look like they have an STI or they say that they don’t have one, they still could. “People can be STI carriers without displaying symptoms themselves,” explains Isiah. “Plus, they might not even know they have an STI yet so ensure you use a condom.”
If there’s anything the Child Trends’ study can teach us, it’s that we need to set up safe sex standards from the second we first start dating. Otherwise we’ll have a whole generation dealing with STIs. “Young people definitely need to set up good habits early on. If they set a pattern where they’ve had unsafe sex and haven’t contracted an STI, they’re more likely to continue that dangerous pattern in later years,” explains Isiah. And we’re pretty sure most 14-19 year olds really don’t want to be parents yet either.
Ladies, as a general rule – if it’s not on, it’s so not on.