GEK1545 Mid-Term Assessment Name: Loh Hui Xin Matriculation No. : U061710N Date of Submission: 23/2/2009 Introduction The main reproductive health issues faced by adolescents and young adults are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, syphilis, AIDs and Chlamydia and unwanted pregnancies. The main issues mentioned above are mainly faced by youths in developed countries. It is reflected by the increasing prevalence of STIs and unwanted pregnancies among youths in developed countries such as Singapore (“Teen sex as a health issue”, 2008).
The globalization of Western beliefs about sex and marriage, lack of parental guidance and peer pressure led to increasing liberalizations of beliefs about sex and earlier sexual activity among more youths. The suggested ways of addressing these problems will also be discussed. a) Globalisation of Western Beliefs and Change in Attitudes towards marriage The change of beliefs about sexual activity could be caused by the globalization of undesirable Western values about sex. These values are often spread by the mass media.
For instance, Western celebrities such as Paris Hilton posted her sex video with her boyfriend online that attracted the attention of the media and young people. The TV stations in many countries also broadcast American TV series such as Sex and The City and Friends which stresses the joy of unprotected pre-marital sex over the potential drawbacks of it. The negative influences from the media may lead to youths believing that having sexual intercourse before marriage is fine (Study links teen pregnancy, racy TV, 2008).
Consequently, some youths experiment with unprotected sex and some become pregnant or infected with sexually transmitted diseases. On the other hand, the attitudes of youths towards marriage had changed. Youths today do not view marriage with the same degree of importance as their predecessors and there is less prejudice against not getting married (Martin, Specter, Martin & Martin, 2003). Therefore, more people including youths feel that there is no need to abstain from sex before marriage. Hence, premarital sex becomes more ubiquitous and the reproductive health mentioned above arises. b)Lack of Parental Supervision and Guidance Parents in developed countries today are often preoccupied with work to spend time with their children. Hence, they neither have time to inculcate desirable values and beliefs about sex in their children, nor to supervise what their children do with their peers outside. If teenagers watch television programmes that advocate risky sexual behavior without guidance from their parents, they may believe that having unprotected premarital sex is permissible and safe (Study links teen pregnancy, racy TV, 2008).
Some teenagers try to find information on the internet to satisfy their curiosity about sex, which may be unreliable (“She Googled to learn about sex”, 2008). Consequently, if they choose to be sexually active early, they may become victims of infections and unwanted pregnancies. (c)Ignorance of reproductive health and contraceptives STIs and unwanted pregnancies become more common among youths because of their lack of knowledge about the male and female reproductive systems and contraceptives (Chong, 2008). As a result, they do not take any precautions.
Some youths hold wrong beliefs that a female is infertile in the first few years after their menarche (Hatcher, Stewart, Stewart, Guest, Schwartz, Jones & Oakley, 1985), so they do not take any precautions against pregnancies or STIs. Some youths hold wrong beliefs about contraceptives or do not know how to use them correctly. Some youths wrongly believe that male condoms reduce the joy of love-making. Actually, condoms can delay premature ejaculation (Hatcher et al. , 1985) and do not reduce the joy of sex.
Newer designs of male condoms are infused with spermicides that kill sperms and are highly effective in preventing pregnancies and STIs (Singh, 2009). Teenage girls who are sexually active may have reservations about using contraceptives. It is because they may think that these contraceptives can cause cancer, weight gain and they do not feel at ease touching their vaginas to check the position of the Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) they may install (Hatcher et al. , 1985). Their concerns about various contraceptives are unfounded. In fact, most of the contraceptives today are safe.
The latest generation of IUD does not cause cancer and is able to regulate menstrual flow in teenage girls with very heavy menstrual flow (Singh, 2009). Hormonal contraceptive pills reduce acne in teenage girls with severe acne and do not cause weight gain while preventing pregnancies (Lee, 2008). Oakley & Bogue (1995) found that even if they know about the contraceptives, they may not know how to use it properly (as cited in Steinberg, 2008). Hence, these 2 factors lead to the increasing numbers of STIs and unwanted pregnancies among youths. (d) Peer pressure to be sexually active early
Some youths are having premarital sex because most of their peers are doing it (Steinberg, 2008). They may fear rejection by their peers for not doing so. At the same time, more youths accept premarital sex as part of teenage romances, so more youths are having premarital sex to build closer relationships (Martin et al, 2003). Without knowledge of correct usage of contraceptives; they have unprotected premarital sex with others. Consequently, some may become infected or pregnant. (e) Ways to Tackle Reproductive Health Issues Affecting Youths There are 3 ways that may help to tackle the reproductive health issues faced by youths.
The 3 ways are: increasing the awareness of reproductive health and contraception among youths, encouraging increased parental guidance of their teenage children about sex and teaching teenagers to resist peer pressure to have sex early. The limitations of these ways will also be discussed. (i) Increasing the awareness of reproductive health and contraception The sex education in schools should increase the coverage of safe sexual behavior, other than promoting abstinence. Teachers in schools should educate teenagers on choosing suitable contraceptives and how to use them correctly.
Other than that, the knowledge of male and female reproductive systems should also be taught to Secondary 1 students (“Teen sex as a health, issue”, 2008). It is because most teenagers’ reproductive systems mature at that age and may start getting sexually active. With the correct knowledge taught to teenagers in school, sexually active teenagers may no longer avoid contraceptives. However, some members of the public may be opposed to the idea of teaching teenagers about contraceptives. They argue that this may increase the curiosity of teenagers towards sex and cause them to try the forbidden fruit (Steinberg, 2008).
They also feel that doing so may not reduce the incidence of pre-marital sex, which is the root cause of the reproductive health issues in teenagers today. In rebuttal, the concerns of the opponents can be allayed. Research by Christopher (1995); Furstenberg, Geitz, Teitler & Weiss (1997); Guttmacher et al. (1997); Kaplan et al. , (2001); Richardson (1997); Schuster, Bell, Berry & Kanouse (1998) showed that in America showed that increased awareness of contraceptives among the young did not increase much sexual activity among them ( as cited in Steinberg, 2008).
Eventually, the educators will still stress benefits of abstinence over the benefits of contraceptives. Secondly, the tide of change in the values and beliefs about sex is difficult to reverse. Hence, it is extremely difficult to tackle the reproductive health problems mentioned above by promoting abstinence alone. Therefore, increasing the awareness of contraceptives and reproductive health among sexually active youths may help to reduce the incidence of STIs and unwanted pregnancies among youths significantly. However, the choice of whether to have premarital sex is a personal decision.
Hence, the educators could only play the role of an advisor in this issue. (ii)Parental guidance Parents with teenage children should spend more time with them to inculcate desirable values and knowledge of sex in them. The parents should also guide them about the risks of premarital sex and how to have protected sex if their children are already sexually active (Cheong, 2008). This will not only prevent premarital sex and unprotected sex in sexually active youths (Steinberg, 2008); it also prevent teenagers from finding information on the internet (“She Googled to learn about sex”, 2008), some of which may be misleading.
However, some parents may be hesitant to talk about sex with their teenage children as they may be very conservative about sex (Cheong, 2008). Hence, it will take considerable time and effort from the authorities and society to convince conservative parents to talk about sex with their children. (iii)Ways of resisting peer pressure to have premarital sex Educators and counsellors could teach youths how to resist peer pressure to have premarital sex. Firstly, they should tell them they will eventually lose out if they get pregnant or infected because of not abstaining or having unprotected sex.
Secondly, counsellors and educators could teach teenagers other methods to build closer relationships with their romantic partners without having premarital sex. This method may be useful in preventing premarital sex among some youths, yet some youths will still succumb to peer pressure despite counselling. Conclusion In conclusion, the main reproductive health issues faced by adolescents and young adults today are due to the change in beliefs and values about sex, lack of parental supervision and guidance, inadequate and incorrect knowledge about contraceptives and peer pressure.
There are 3 main ways of addressing these reproductive health issues that may be very effective. However, these ways do have limitations. Therefore, time and effort are needed to address these limitations in order to make the solutions effective. References Books Hatcher, R. A. , Stewart, G. K. , Stewart, F. H. , Guest, F. J. , Schwartz, D. W. , Jones, S. A. , Oakley, M. M. (1985). Contraceptives for Teens. In Smith, P. G. , Mumford, D. M. (Eds. ), Adolescent Reproductive Health (pp. 55-68). New York, London: Gardner Press Inc. Steinberg, L. (2008). Adolescence (8th ed. , New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education Journal Articles Martin, P. D. , Specter, G. , Martin, D. , Martin, M. (2003), Expressed Attitudes of Adolescents Toward Marriage and Family Life, Adolescence, 38, 359-367 Newspaper Articles Cheong, J. (2008, October 2). Children, let’s talk about sex; Start early and take a step-by-step approach to the subject, advise parents and psychologists. The Straits Times Chong, A. , (2008, October 17). Preventing Aids: Young people know least about it; Those aged 18 to 29 ranked lowest in health board’s survey on Aids awareness. The Straits Times Lee, H. C. 2008, November 21). Birth control: More education needed; 1 in 4 women who’re not ready for babies fails to take preventive steps: Poll. The Straits Times Teen sex as a health issue (2008, April 10). The Straits Times Risque teens at risk; Sexually active teens are on the rise but many are ignorant of the deadlier aspects of unprotected sex. (2008, September 18), The Straits Times She Googled to learn about sex. (2008, September 18), The Straits Times Study links teen pregnancy, racy TV. (2008, November 3), Newsday Lecture Slides Singh, K. , Lecture Slides on Contraception II, 16/2/2009