Somdutta Das, Final Year MBBS
The world has mostly considered the topic of sex as a taboo, preferring to keep this utmost important discussion hushed, behind closed doors. This unwillingness to discuss sexual topics and reproductive health out in the open has led to countless unsafe sexual practices, especially among adolescents in lower socio-economic groups. Over the years, even with progress in terms of education, society and culture, discussions about sexual health is still lagging significantly behind.
Public awareness and acceptance about open minded discussions regarding sexual and reproductive health is of greatest importance in this day and age. Along with the advancement of society, adolescents these days are exposed to a myriad of content online, but the lack of proper knowledge and education about such endeavours has also led to more number of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies in recent years than ever before. The world traditionally, has always been a country open about moral values of sexual health, reproduction and fertility but at current times, the situation could not be more in opposition to this image of openness that’s been cultivated for so long.
In recent times, not only is sex a taboo, sex education in public schools have been forbidden in few areas. This does raise the question in one’s mind, would a country with youth population be benefited more from proper knowledge and education rather than the education being stopped to contend with the fact that it will lead to more promiscuous and irresponsible sexual behaviour in the future for all?
WHO defines adolescents as being between the age group of 10-19; a time period fraught with emotional turmoil interspersed with physical and psychological growth, culminating into reproductive development, with which comes sexual awareness and curiosity to explore the unknown. Intervention at this stage, by the way of making proper knowledge available to teenagers that is lucid and understandable would be an ideal way to fulfil this imminent need. An extensive program inclusive of open communication about sexual and reproductive health, safe sex practices and the various methods of contraception and prevention of STIs will prevent the culture of shame and hesitation that has propagated for so long.
If the adolescent is shy or hesitant to speak to peers, there is an app and helpline support, even though they have a long way to go to be a comprehensive approach yet. We can only hope, that in the near future, there will be liberally acceptance of the inclusion of sex education in the school curriculum, extending its outreach and culminating in overall development of school going adolescents leading to better sexual healthcare.