Real Life

When Sex Gets Serious: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

It’s more than just the next step. Sex comes with responsibilities and risks. Are you ready?

Sad girl on bench

You may think that sex will bring the two of you closer together, or help you hold on to him. Maybe you simply believe it’s the next step for any normal couple to take and, since all of your friends are doing it, so should you. But have you really weighed the consequences and decided what it is that you truly want?

“She’s had a number of different partners. She thought she could just have fun.”

It’s been a long road for Dawn. Since losing her virginity at a young age, she’s had a number of different partners. She thought it wasn’t a big deal. She thought she could put aside the emotional part of sex and just have fun. It wasn’t until she contracted pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) eight years ago that she realized sex is serious. Dawn now suffers from frequent bladder and ovary infections, and spends a great deal of time at the doctor’s office. Without regular checkups, Dawn knows there’s a risk of infertility at a later date.

Having sexual intercourse with a partner is a lot more complicated than it sounds. It doesn’t guarantee everlasting love and happiness. It won’t help you hold on to someone, and it certainly won’t make someone love you. In fact, it may cause problems in your current relationship.

Many teens find that, after having sex with a partner, their relationship quickly fizzles, often because sex and love are easily confused. But one doesn’t necessarily mean the other. You can show love in many different ways, other than just through sex.

It’s important to ask yourself why you want to have sex with your partner. And, just as importantly, why your partner wants to have sex with you. Talk to your partner about your concerns. If you can’t discuss sex with him, chances are the two of you are not ready to have sex. If you are willing to let him get close enough to trust him with your body, then the two of you should be able to have an open and honest dialogue about your concerns.

In addition to dealing with the emotional consequences of having sex-let’s face it, it’s a huge step-there is a whole bundle of other problems you may forget to consider: diseases. The two of you should discuss not only what sex means to you, but also what concerns you may have about safe sex, STDs, previous partners, and pregnancy.

Julie’s story is slightly different from Dawn’s. She dated the same guy throughout high school. It wasn’t just sex for her, it was love. It wasn’t until she learned that her boyfriend was messing around behind her back that she decided to get checked. She got the results of a Pap test and was devastated. The personal price? Genital HPV infection. Luckily, Julie’s case was deemed low risk, and a simple (yet invasive) surgical removal of the warts with a scalpel got rid of her infection. Although her infection hasn’t resurfaced for years, Julie now realizes the importance of getting regular Pap tests.

It’s important to know who you are sharing your body with. After all, each time you have sex with someone, you are trusting that person with your emotional well-being. And with your life.

Do you know your partner that well? Remember to be mindful of what you truly want. If you are second-guessing your choice, then the decision may not be right for you at this time. And just because you’ve had sex with someone before, it doesn’t mean that you have to do it again. No one else can choose what you do with your body. The choice is up to you.

I was always hearing that he was messing around behind my back, but I didn’t believe my friends. Looking back, I shouldn’t have trusted him with my body.”

I now have constant bladder infections and painful infections in my ovaries. It’s a tough lesson to learn. Be careful who you trust with your body.”

I realize now that I was way too young. I take sex seriously now. It’s my body and my choice.”

My life is now different from many of my friends’. I have to take care of my baby, instead of doing what other teenagers typically do.”


Bacteria are transmitted through sexual intercourse and through oral-genital contact.
Chlamydia can also cause eye infections if the eyes come in contact with bodily fluid.
Lower abdominal pain, pain during intercourse, unusual vaginal discharge, painful urination
LOOK FORWARD TO Antibiotics are needed to clear up the infection, which usually lasts seven to 10 days. If left untreated, chlamydia can develop into another STD: pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility.


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by bacteria called spirochete. This bacteria is passed from one person to another during sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral, or anal) when there is direct contact with a syphilis sore.
Large, red, wet sores
called chancres (shank-ers) that can appear on the vagina, rectum, and/or mouth. Chancre sores are painless, making it sometimes
difficult to detect the disease if the sores appear in out-of reach
places on the body.
If chancres are left untreated, they can develop into tertiary syphilis, which can possibly spread throughout the body, and in severe cases affect the brain, heart, spinal cord, and/or bones. Gradual
blindness and death can occur.


PID is a progressive sexually transmitted infection of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. The disease is usually contracted as a
result of an STD such as chlamydia.
Chills, fever, heavy periods, pain in the lower abdomen, painful urination, pain during sexual intercourse, heavy and unusual vaginal discharge
If left untreated, PID can spread throughout the reproductive organs and cause long-term damage, such as difficulties with pregnancy, scarring of the reproductive system, and infertility.


HIV can be sexually transmitted from an infected individual through blood, semen, vaginal
fluids, and breast milk. Sharing needles (such as injecting drugs or steroids, or tattooing) can also spread the HIV virus. HIV can be passed from mother to child through the
birthing process or breast-feeding.
Those infected with the HIV virus may not have any symptoms for years, making it crucial to get an annual HIV/AIDS blood test performed by a doctor.
Although there is no cure for this fatal disease, early detection of the HIV virus can delay the onset of
full-blown AIDS with antiviral medications.
One of the most serious and fatal sexually transmitted diseases in all of human history, HIV/AIDS has no cure and no treatment. AIDS is caused by the HIV virus and destroys a person’s immune system, making it impossible for them to fight normal illnesses, resulting in death.


This sexually transmitted disease is caused by a group of viruses, which includes more than 100 different strains and types. Approximately 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted and affect the
genital area.
Most people
infected with HPV do not even
know they have it
, because there are no symptoms. Pap tests detect this STD; therefore, it’s crucial to get an annual Pap exam.
Those infected with HPV who are deemed “high-risk” types should get frequent checkups. HPV can lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, or anus. “Low-risk” HPV types may notice genital warts and/or mild Pap test abnormalities.


KIDS HELP PHONE is the only toll-free, 24-hour, and completely confidential phone counselling service in Canada. Talk to a professional counsellor without having to give your name or personal information. (800) 668-6868,

JESSIE’S CENTRE FOR TEENAGERS offers services, help, and free advice to all pregnant and parenting teenagers under the age of 19. (416) 365-1888,

THE CANADIAN FEDERATION FOR SEXUAL HEALTH promotes the sexual health and rights of teens and adults. Log on and get advice about sex and other health concerns. (613) 241-4474,

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