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February 2012
Sexually Transmitted
Infections in Adolescents
Dr Lavanya Nutankalva
Adolescents are defined by WHO as persons between 10 and 19 years of age. This is the age where the transition occurs from childhood to adulthood. Along with this comes the awareness of sexuality but many adolescents are ill informed in these matters and some of the choices they make put them at risk.

There is no database in India to actually gauge the problem but in Western countries the incidence of STI is more common in adolescent girls because of changing vaginal flora that puts them at a higher risk of acquiring these infections.

It’s the duty of parents and also schools to provide adequate and comprehensive sex education and create awareness on these issues so that adolescents are able to make informed and conscious decisions to protect themselves.

Many of the infections go unnoticed and can lead to recurrent infections or complications. Signs and symptoms manifest very late. It can be as late as a few months depending on the causative organism.

Risk factors

  • Unprotected sex
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Prior history of STI
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Being an adolescent female
Common infections
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomonal infections
  • Herpes
  • HIV
  • HPV
  • Painful urination
  • Burning sensation while passing urine
  • Vaginal or penile discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Sores on the genital or rectal region or in the mouth
  • Sore and swollen lymph nodes
The affected person should seek medical attention as soon as possible so that appropriate examination and tests can be done and the infection can be treated to prevent future complications. Treatment procedure depends on the causative organism.

  • Adequate and comprehensive sex education
  • Protected sexual contact
  • Monogamous relationship
  • Seeking medical care early for screening and treatment
Dr Lavanya Nutankalva Consultant- Infectious Diseases Apollo Health City Hyderabad

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