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Saturday, 09 December 2006

The Lowdown on Sexually Transmitted Infections

Written by  Sally Byrne

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Angela was 14 the first time she had sexual intercourse. "I was the fourth child," she remembers. "By the time I came around, my mother and step-father - both alcoholics - had no energy left to discipline me."

"I didn't have a curfew. I stayed out as late as I wanted." Angela admits that she had low self-esteem.

"I didn't know how to say no. My father left the family when I was three. I guess I was looking for a father figure."

The father figure Angela found was a nineteen-year-old friend of her brother. He wanted to have sex with her and Angela agreed, even though it wasn't really what she wanted.

"I wanted him to think I was older, more sophisticated. I had been sexually abused as a child and because of this had poor boundaries. I wanted him to take care of me. He wanted sex."

Angela continued to have sexual relationships throughout her teens, usually with older guys. Rarely, if ever, did they use condoms.

By her early twenties, Angela had contracted venereal warts, had repeated urinary tract infections, and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).

PID is caused by the same bacteria that causes gonorrhea and chlamydia. Although she received medical treatment - antibiotics - Angela believes that repeatedly contracting these sexually transmitted diseases (STD) led to a case of cervical cancer in her twenties. She made it through this, only to be bombarded with more...

When Angela met her future husband he told her that he had Herpes. "I didn't know what that meant. Since I thought I was supposed to be worldly and know everything, I didn't ask. A month after meeting him we had sex. I was on birth-control pills."

"Soon I was in excruciating pain. I had sores all over my genitals, inside and out. I couldn't blame him. After all, he had told me he had it. I'm the one who didn't ask how to prevent it."

If they had used a condom, most likely Angela wouldn't have contracted the disease. For the next year, Angela suffered painful sores without a break.

When pregnant with their first child, Angela was shocked to learn that Herpes could interfere with childbirth. "I wanted to have a natural birth," she recounts. "But if I had an open sore, it would have meant a Cesarean."

Using a combination of diet and stress-reduction, Angela luckily avoided the surgical birth. "This was one huge wake-up call that my life had to change. Stress was threatening to do me in."

Today Angela is the mother of several teenagers. "No matter how hard it is, no matter how angry they get at me, it's my job to set loving limits." This means a curfew. It means limiting the contact they have with the opposite sex, and providing supervision.

"Those teenage urges are very strong. Even kids with good self-esteem have hormonal urges. I have to set boundaries."

"Today I know that what's right and safe for me is better than the illusion of having a partner take care of me. I've learned that it's alright not to know, but it's necessary to ask, to research. "

"Using a condom would have been a good idea, but condoms have been known to break. Waiting would have been even better."

Last modified on Sunday, 10 April 2011 16:37
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Sally Byrne

Sally Byrne is a former Tae Kwon Do state champion, writer, and mother of three.

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