Fort Worth, Texas,
03:14 PM

Can I get that from that?

The Doc Smitty answers 5 questions about sexually transmitted diseases

Conversations about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be difficult. It’s not uncommon for teenagers to have questions but to feel like there’s nowhere to turn for answers. Because of that, a lot of misinformation is shared between teenagers when it comes to sex and STDs.

Trust me, you don’t want to get advice about sex or STDs from teenagers.

Here are some frequently asked questions:

1. Do kids even get STDs?

Yes. About 10 million new cases of STDs are diagnosed each year between the ages of 15 and 24.

2. How will I know if my boyfriend/girlfriend has an STD?

Many STDs don't have obvious symptoms and many teenagers are ashamed to or do not want to talk about it. Because of this, you will never know for sure if your partner has an STD.

3. How serious are STDs?

Identifying and treating STDs is very important. Some like gonorrhea and chlamydia can start with small symptoms but get worse and cause severe, life-threatening infections. Others, like HIV, may not show symptoms at all but can lead to serious health complications later.

4. Are all STDs treatable?

Some STDs go away after treatment but not all. HIV can lead to AIDS which is a life-long condition with severe consequences. Herpes can cause recurrent outbreaks of sores on the genitals which can come back again and again. Human papilloma virus (HPV) causes genital warts which can lead to cervical cancer (in girls) and penile cancer (in boys).

5. Do you just get STDs from sex, or from other stuff too?

You can get an STD from vaginal sex but that’s not the only way.

Oral sex can also transmit most of the infections. A person can get gonorrhea or chlamydia of the throat. HPV and herpes can also be transmitted via oral sex.

HPV and herpes are also contagious via skin to skin contact so even touching another’s genitals can transmit these infections.

If you are a teen reading things, there's a lot more you can learn about STDs. If you have other questions, ask your doctor or talk to a parent. Mom and dad, if you are reading this, please be available to talk to your child.

About the author

Justin Smith is a pediatrician and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's His interest in communications started when he realized that his parents were relying more on the internet for medical information. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” is set to open in Trophy Club in the fall of 2016.

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