December has come and gone, and for many of us that means back to reality. Some may look back fondly at the new memories they created, while others cringe at their bad decisions.
Your teenager may have engaged in their own form of recklessness this holiday and may be too afraid to talk to you.
In 2015, teen pregnancy rates were shown to be decreasing, but it is up to parents and their teenagers to keep it that way. It is always a good idea to sit down with your adolescent child and have the 'sex talk'. It may be embarrassing for both parties, but these conversations must be constantly had so your teenager feels safe to turn to you in case anything happens to them.
Picture this: a strict mother buys sanitary towels for her two daughters and keeps a monthly checklist and roster for every time they come collect the pads from her (true story). The eldest daughter has begun exploring her sexuality and is too afraid to speak to her mother because sex is a taboo subject in their household. Instead, the eldest decides to collect her monthly stash of pads from her mother while she keeps quiet about the fact that she's missed her period for the past 4 months.
Why do parents still find the topic of sex taboo, and why are they not instilling contraceptive culture among their teenagers? If the sex conversation was had regularly, would the eldest daughter have been able to let her mother know that she is pregnant before she was 5 months pregnant?
Also, read: Let's talk about sex
There are many options for contraception that are available for free at local government clinics in South Africa. A sister at Cape Town's Golden Acre Reproductive Health Care Clinic, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity as she's not an official spokesperson, stressed the importance of these facts:
- Sexually active teens and young adults must be in control of how they protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies and STIs.
- Patients are required to be honest with their doctor so they are provided with the best contraceptive.
- Teenagers over the age of 15 may go to the clinic without the permission of an adult.
Also, read: It's never too late to have the (sex) talk
While girls are most affected by the lack or misrepresentation of sexual education, it is important that both boys and girls are spoken to. Parents should use the right terminology and be honest and open with their children. Failure to do so may result in your teenager receiving the wrong information from their peers, unrealistic expectations of sex from pornographic media and engaging in unsafe sexual practices.
Importantly, no contraception offers 100% protection against pregnancy and STIs. So if your teen is sexually active, they should realise that there's a risk they may have to deal with either, or both.
Here's our guide to the contraceptives available to teens in South Africa in 2018:
If your teenager has be forcefully coerced into sex or thinks they have been date raped, please head to your nearest hospital or clinic within 72 hours. They will provide them with the necessary medication to prevent STIs and pregnancy.
Please bear in mind that while the contraceptives mentioned will protect your teen against unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, they do not protect against HIV and STIs – condoms offer the only contraceptive barrier that protect against STIs.
Remember, your teenager is a sexual being as well. Regardless of their sexual orientation, they deserve to be equipped with the correct knowledge to be able to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and STIs. Stress the importance of exploring their sexuality with someone they trust or to abstain until they are ready for all the responsibilities and consequences that come with having sex. Urge your teenagers to engage in a healthy sexual relationship not only for themselves but for their partner and their future.
For more information visit your local state clinic, talk to your gynaecologist or visit these websites: