Some pediatricians do not agree with dishing out condoms to teen patients in an attempt to promote teen sexual health.
The bad news does not stop there, however. Even if physicians could guarantee that sexually active teens escape STIs and pregnancy, there is not now, nor will there ever be, a condom, contraceptive or vaccine for the heart. Teenage sexual activity is an independent risk factor for developing low self-esteem, major depression, and increased risk of suicide.
In studies that controlled for confounding factors, sexually active girls were found to be three times as likely to report being depressed and three times as likely to have attempted suicide when compared to sexually abstinent girls. Sexually active boys were more than twice as likely to suffer from depression and seven times as likely to have attempted suicide when compared to sexually abstinent boys. This is not mere coincidence.
Scientists now know that sexual activity releases chemicals in the brain that create emotional bonds between partners. Breaking these bonds can cause depression and make it harder to bond with someone else in the future. Clearly, sexual abstinence is the only way to guarantee optimal sexual and mental health for adolescents.
Studies demonstrate that parents who promote abstinence and have a history of open communication with their children are successful in delaying sexual debut. The promotion and distribution of condoms and contraception by physicians undermines the authority of parents and the strength of the abstinence message. Instead, parents and physicians must work together repeatedly offering clear, firm guidance regarding how to attain optimal health while maintaining emotional warmth and connection.
Michelle Cretella MD is the Vice-President of the American College of Pediatricians and chairs the College’s Committee on Adolescent Sexuality. She is also a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
For more information visit the following websites:
American College of Pediatricians: www.Best4Children.org
Medical Institute for Sexual Health – Building Family Connections: http://www.buildingfamilyconnections.org/
National Physicians Center – Prescriptions for Parents: http://www.physicianscenter.org/v1/videos.php
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