By Lindsay Wynn with Dr. Juliana
In the tapestry of life, sexual health intertwines with our experiences, both warm and challenging. For teens and young adults this can be an incredibly confusing time in their lives. Bodies change, often introducing a whole new category of needs, be it period care, understanding of contraception or even vulva and vaginal care and the needs around common conditions like bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, UTI's and the like.
Creating shame free, equitable sex education can shape our long term relationship with our overall confidence, understanding of our anatomy and physiologically and emotional needs.
This is a pivotal yet often overlooked journey for teens - the love and understanding we extend to our own bodies, community and even our children, especially during the delicate phase of adolescence, is of the utmost importance.
Why It Matters
Embarking on the teenage years is akin to navigating uncharted waters. In these formative times, it becomes imperative to foster open conversations about vulva and vaginal care, acknowledging the profound impact it has on a teen's journey to self-discovery.
Educational Empowerment: Our teens deserve the tools to navigate the intricate landscape of their changing bodies. Empowering them with knowledge fosters a positive relationship with their physical selves. Dr Juliana adds "When we arm young folks with information they need for their health currently and provide it within a safe, positive container, we give them the power of agency in their sexuality. When someone has agency throughout their lifespan, we see vast differences in their access to and their use understanding of sexual health support. "
Body Positivity: Let's break free from the chains of shame and stigma. By fostering an environment of acceptance, we help our teens build a foundation of positive body image and self-esteem. In addition Dr Juliana shares "How teens feel about their relationship with their body has a direct impact on the connect to themselves, others and their place in the world. Teaching them the power of body compassion is pivotal to having a positive foundation in one of the most important relationships they will have-their body and self."
Preventing Health Issues: Understanding the essentials of care equips teens with the ability to ward off common concerns. Statistics reveal that 75% of folks with vaginas face at least one yeast infection in their lifetime, while 1 in 3 teens may encounter bacterial vaginosis.
In Dr Julianas practice she continues to be surprised with the lack of information and the amount of stigma still attached to yeast infections and BV. When giving the statistics about prevalence and the products available to prevent and treat YI and BV, her clients are shocked there were options they had no idea existed and relieved to know that it was common to experience both. While they often do work to reduce the shame attached to the misconceptions of the behaviors and problems we are taught someone who gets YI and BV exhibit, it is still a constant battle socially. We know that the shame is lifted, there is a lot of relief physically and emotionally.
The shadows of stigma can cast long-lasting effects on mental health. When intimate topics are shrouded in shame, it paves the way for misinformation and untreated health issues. As parents, our role extends beyond providing information – it encompasses creating a safe space where our teens can express themselves without fear or judgment.
Dr Juliana shares as a personal anecdote "It behooves us, as parents, to be role models of caring about our sexual health and mental health consistently and with normalcy and transparency so our kids so know HOW to care for it not just hearing that we should."
A Call for Empathy
In the same vein as navigating the complexities of love and loss, understanding our teens' struggles in discussing intimate topics is paramount. Let's normalize these conversations, fostering empathy and reinforcing the idea that their experiences are valid and worthy of acknowledgment.
Medical Insights and Hopeful Resilience
Early detection becomes a key ally in the journey of vulva and vaginal care. Regular check-ups with healthcare professionals offer preventive measures and peace of mind. Preventative care is the best form of self care we have. As adults let us extend the lessons from the challenges we faced in the past, and give our youth a better toolkit for sexual self care for their future.
Setting our teens up to have a positive relationship with their bodies
In nurturing our teens through open dialogue and understanding, we contribute to a future where they embrace their bodies with confidence and knowledge. Together, let's sculpt a compassionate world—one where love, empathy, and shared humanity form the foundation of a brighter and more resilient future. Cheers to fostering growth, connection, and boundless love for our youth and the collective journey ahead.
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Contributing Author: Meet Dr. Juliana
I have a PhD in Counseling Education, with experience teaching graduate therapists to be effective therapists, as well as a background in teaching gender studies.
I am a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), a licensed professional counselor (LPC), and a mother.
I have written sex-positive education programs for my own business and for Planned Parenthood; I ran a halfway house for women in recovery; have worked with sexual abuse survivors and sexual abusers; I have provided therapy for individuals, families, and couples; I was a clinical director at a university’s counseling center.
Needless to say, I continue to spread my holistic, deeply-researched, non-intimidating, sex-positive message all over the world.
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