In a country where Health Ministers in the past have been known to insist that fidelity in marriage is more efficient than the use of condoms to control the spread of HIV, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to know that India has a high number of HIV-infected people.
Why stop with HIV, right? If you were under the impression that teenage pregnancies happen mostly in the US, think again! The number of teenage pregnancies in India is on the high side. India also has the highest rate of population growth in the world.
Sex education in India
These disturbing stats are a direct result of lack of sex education among the people of our country. Sex may have been treated as a taboo in the past. But it is about time we broke out of the vicious cycle of taboo associated with sex and started talking about it.
Young people can make good decisions about their sexual health if they are given the right sex education at the appropriate age. Reluctance to educate youngsters about the physiological, social, and biological aspects of leading a healthy sexual life will only lead to confusion. In the absence of sex education, they will have only half-baked truths, misconceptions, rumors, and other misguided information to go with. ( A little learning is a dangerous thing.)
Banning sex education in schools on the grounds that it would make students want to indulge in the act of sex is an argument that does not hold strong. Delaying the initiation of sex until after marriage is not the answer to the problem. Because not everybody believes in abstinence until marriage. Many a couple in a consensual relationship do not feel that they have to wait until they get married to get intimate. We are neither encouraging pre-marital sex, nor are we bashing it because who you decide to get involved with and when, are personal choices. However, if your knowledge about safe sex practices is not adequate, and if your understanding about sexual health is outdated, it will lead to problems such as unwanted pregnancies and chances of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
What are STIs?
Sexually transmitted infections are a group of diseases or infections that are transmitted through sexual contact. STIs can be prevented by having safe sex. Condoms are the most frequently used method to provide the necessary protection during intercourse.
Here is a list of common STIs you can contract if you indulge in unprotected sex:
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Genital warts
September 12–18 is Sexual Health Awareness Week. This year, the focus is on STIs. On that note:
Schedule an appointment with your gynecologist/urologist
It is not enough to use protection and tell yourself that all is well. Many STD symptoms do not make an appearance until the infection worsens. It is important to get yourself tested immediately if you notice anything unusual. Hence, periodic visits to the gynecologist or the urologist are necessary for good sexual health.
The use of artificial methods to prevent pregnancy is known as contraception. It is a very important part of family planning, which is the only way to keep our ever-growing population in check.
It is important for young people to know about contraceptives. Many a time, teenage pregnancies occur because of a lack of awareness about contraceptive techniques.
In addition to providing protection from STIs, condoms are also effective contraceptives. Abortion pills or oral contraceptive pills should never be considered as an alternative for contraceptives. It may be shocking to hear that the side-effects of some of these pills have made it impossible for women to conceive later on. So, unless you and your partner are mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to have a baby, make sure you use any of the contraceptive methods to avoid getting pregnant.
Instead of deeming sex as a shameful act, shushing any topic remotely related to sex, and clinging on to our ‘glorious’ past or ‘Indian values’ to justify it, we should strive for a progressive future where people can openly talk about sexual health and safe sex practices.
Featured image courtesy of Nevil Zaveri.
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