Friday, April 12, 2013

7QT Explaining STDs to an 11 year old girl

Seven Quick Takes is hosted by Grace over at Camp Patton

1.Our pediatrician offered the HPV vaccine for our daughter (age 11), I declined. I told him she can make that decision when she is able to understand fully how HPV is transmitted. My daughter was happy to get two shots over three. But we had to tell her how STDs are spread with multiple partners this evening, but as Catholics we utilize comprehensive preventative healthy behavior with fidelity to one's spouse. The CDC also promotes abstinence and monogamy in its FACT SHEETS. Something to share with your children, if the school's sexual health class does not fully highlight this information. No one should die from an STD, but people shouldn't assume medicine should always be there to accommodate unsafe behavior. Sigh... couldn't just tell a half truth to her and said it was just a vaccine to prevent cancer in woman, as they do in the commercials. What next inform her, that antibiotics can't keep up with the new strains of STDs

2. I shared this on Facebook, and there was a good discussion on the realities of living in a world of STDs. First is that STDs are historic, and have a precedent of harming people. This was before the Pill, as highlighted by NPR. Did Penicillin, Rather Than The Pill, Usher In Age Of Love?

3. We told our daughter because mom and dad are only with each other, we stay healthy. That my 'female doctor' is happy that dad and I are only with each other. It's the same way a doctor wants you to eat healthy and exercise. We address every other health concern with behavior change before chronic management, except for sexual health.

4. It's the way HPV is marketed and pushed on girls and boys at a young age, in which they fail to even mention that HPV is an STD. The public advertising campaign backfired and at age 11 is too young, I would feel more confident at 13 or 14. I have nothing against in general vaccines and antibiotics. But just as a vaccine can save a life, so does monogamy/abstinence. Abstinence can not be 'preached', but I grew up that you can and should do whatever you want as a sexual teen/adult as long as you're do it safe. Medicine can not keep up to manage behavior that can harm us.

5. We use to be open about how STDs were transmitted, in a time of nostalgia we didn't hide the issue of STDs with slick campaigns. We called out on STDS and what they are.

6. Money. I think this would be less controversial and higher rates of participation if we didn't have the commercials and the high cost per a shot. The cost per a shot is 120 dollars times three, because you need three shots. The HPV fact sheet I received from the pediatrician was pretty straight forward and compelling without all the dramatic theatrics of 'One Less'. Dr. Oz recommends waiting to the 14 year range, because we do not know how effective it is after 5 years. Gardasil is a big money maker for Merck who lost a lot of profit over Vioxx. The vaccine was pushed through with a lot of soft campaign funding to mandate girls be required to be vaccinated to attend school. That's where parents lost trust, you don't catch STDs in school like you can with measles.

7. Fact Sheet From the CDC on HPV

*Images are from the CUNY Health in America


  1. We haven't taught about STD's to our 11-yo daughter yet. Not looking forward to that conversation.

    It is so crazy how our society pushes people to modify their behavior with diet/exercise to avoid diseases like obesity/diabetes/heart disease...but doesn't think people are capable of modifying their sexual behavior to avoid STD's or unwanted pregnancy.

    It's just crazy that they are pushing HPV on girls that are so young.

  2. Boys really can have cooties! We joked.

  3. Thanks for touching on this issue, Renee. As a non-parent (yet), I can't speak to how one family should decide if their child/teen should get vaccinated. But as a chaste woman single for far longer than she thought she'd be and exposed to more of the world than she would care for, here is what I have learned from trustworthy sources and feel that all parents should be aware of if their kids are going to live in the wider world (if I am wrong, correct me):

    a) HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact. Even if they are not having intercourse as an older teen or in college, people can contract it when exposed to skin from the torso to the thighs.

    b) unless they have active cancer (say, in the throat), men/boys do not have the same visible/testable signs of the virus as women do

    c)My liberal pharmacist college roommate HATES the Gardasil commercials because, in her words, they are deceptive. It protects against only 4 strains (the most common ones, yes), but there are MANY strains of the virus.

    d) But some protection is better than none (see 'e'). Some insurers may cover that pricey per-shot cost. But after the age of 26 (the highest threshold on that information sheet), your insurance will very likely not cover the vaccination (learned this the hard way as a 28-year-old woman). Check NOW what your insurer has as an age limit

    e)The sad reality of HPV and other STDs is that even if your child/teen is the most chaste kid on the block/campus, if she has a revert/convert/chaste-for-you future spouse who has had anyexperience in their past--no matter how forgiven they are now--she is still at risk.

    I say this not to scare-monger, but to have these unfortunate realities as part of age-appropriate discussions when needed.

  4. I followed a link on QT1 and one of the suggestions on the website was to "reduce the number of sexual partners"!! Um, it only takes one to give you an STD. 3 cheers for teaching chasity until MARRIAGE in school eh!

  5. Yes, but the first suggestions was abstinence and mutual monogamy, I didn't even get that in the early 90s in public school.

    It was the time of the first decade of AIDS, and condims didn't mean you had to be responsible because the condom made you responsible.

    But you always have to meet the person where they are, we like to assume 11 year olds are not sexually active so we should start at the logical and real benefits of non-sexy mutual monogamy.

  6. Good post. We homeschool and my teens get far more info than they'd like about STDs. It doesn't help that I'm a family practice MD. I give my kids the same talk I used to give kids when I was working, but now I have longer to expand on the whole topic. Not only do I teach my kids about STDs, though, but I also talk to them about sexual violence. Even if they aren't involved in sexual violence, they may very well have friends who become victimized at some point. The CDC has some good info.