Sexually-based material overflows from media outlets such as magazine articles, online content, television and movies, and can desensitize you to such ideas. Much of the entertainment marketed toward pre-teens and adolescents is embedded with overt or implicit sexual connotations. If you were intrigued with the idea of sex at a young age, you may be at risk for the dangers associated with early sexual experimentation. The following information is intended for older teen readers and may contain sensitive or explicit material.
Early pregnancy is a top risk associated with early sexual experimentation. About 80 out of every 1,000 sexually active teen girls actually becomes pregnant and it is estimated that 50 out of the 80 will give birth, and approximately 30 will choose abortion, reports Robert J. Bidwell, M.D. in his chapter, "Adolescent Sexuality." Choosing to use condoms and other contraceptives or to abstain from sexual intercourse can greatly reduce the chances of becoming pregnant.
Risk of Disease
Participation in sexual activity can increase the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Teens are infected with chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis at much higher rates in the United States than in Western European countries, likely because of a reduced use of condoms and other contraceptives, says Bidwell. Diseases can be spread through all types of sexual contact, not just intercourse. Infertility and damage to fallopian tubes, ovaries and the uterus, other bodily organs, even death, can occur if sexually transmitted infections are left untreated.
Behavioral and Emotional Issues
Engaging in early sexual activity can have behavioral and emotional repercussions. Premature sexual contact is related to conflicts with a teen's parents, substance abuse and academic problems, notes Bidwell. Teens may be susceptible to feelings of regret and guilt, loss of self-esteem and respect and trust. These may negatively affect future adult relationships, says Thomas Lickona in his article, "The Neglected Heart: The Emotional Dangers of Premature Sexual Involvement," published in the "American Educator." A teen can avoid these potential pitfalls by carefully considering sexual involvement and discussing his feelings with his parents or other adults he trusts.
Prevention Through Communication
Even though you can find out about sex from your friends, teachers and counselors, talking to your parents from a young age can make a big difference. When you develop a close relationship with your parents and they are comfortable answering your questions, offering you advice and expressing and explaining their moral values, you may impact your decisions regarding sex, says Abraham Feingold, Psy.D., in his article, "Parents Can Help Teens Reduce Sexual Risk-Taking" on the Psych Central website.
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