Sexuality

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Sexual orientation

  • Many young people participate in same-sex relationships as part of sexual exploration.
  • Majority of young people will identify as heterosexuals in their adult life.
  • This young sexual stage can be confusing, especially if faced with heterosexual expectations from families, peers and teachers.
  • Young people who identify as homosexuals and bisexuals can become withdrawn and feel isolated and display depressive and self-harm behavior.
  • Important that people learn to value themselves as unique individuals.


Sexual exploration

  • Time between childhood and adulthood is characterized by an exploration of sexual identity.
  • Can be a confusing time.
  • Can be physically prepared to engage in sexually activity, but not emotionally ready.
  • Sexual exploration involves young people learning about and understanding their sexual organs and the physical changes that they are experiencing.
  • Kissing, sexual fantasy, masturbation, petting, oral sex and sexual intercourse are all part of this sexual learning progress.
  • Communication between the individual and their partner is very important and both should have discussed it thoroughly before engaging in any kind of sexual activity.


Sexual behavior

  • As part of developing a personal and sexual identity, young people must experience a range of sexual and affectionate experiences.
  • 28% of 17-18 year olds have had sexual intercourse.
  • Young people from low socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to participate in early intercourse.
  • Males are more likely to participate in and support multiple relationships, whereas young females are generally more involved in only one sexual relationship at a time.

Pregnancy and parenting

  • The number of young females giving birth has decreased significantly. This is due to the availability of contraception and abortion.
  • Educational awareness may also be another factor that has contributed to the decreasing number of births.
  • The impact of pregnancy varies – depending on whether a young mother chooses abortion, parenting or adoption.
  • Young women have higher complication rates and are more likely to suffer from premature delivery and labor complications.
  • A young woman is twice as likely to have an underweight baby.
  • Pregnancy in young women is often a result of inexperience and lack of understanding of their reproductive cycle.
  • For young women to choose to parent their baby, housing and financial support can create a problem. The parents of the young women may withdraw their support and the biological father may not accept responsibilities and leave the mother to raise the child single-handedly.


Abortion

  • Removing the fetus from the uterus by medical procedures.
  • Deciding whether or not to abort can be a traumatic decision or s relief for some young people.
  • In 1996, approx. 40% of young women chose abortion.
  • Young women must be aware of their options regarding pregnancy and if they choose abortion, it is essential that consult a qualified medical practitioner.


HIV/AIDS

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks the body’s immune system and results in the young person being susceptible to infection and diseases such as pneumonia, cancer and nervous system disorders.
  • Incidence of disease in Australia decreasing.
  • Unprotected sexual activity and sharing needles are the primary risk factors for contracting HIV/AIDS
  • Blood borne diseases such as hepatitis B and C are increasing in Australia’s youth population. With increasing intravenous drug use, more young people are likely to be infected by these diseases.


Sexually Transmitted Diseases

  • Lack of safe sex practices is particularly high among young people.
  • As a result of low levels of confidence initiating condom use and incorrect health beliefs, young people participate in high-risk sexual behavior.
  • Lack of knowledge of signs and symptoms of STDs and low perception of risk result in the young people becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases.
  • The consequences of being infected with a STD vary – depending on the severity of the disease and the young person’s ability to cope with the problem.
  • Young people might be embarrassed to seek medical treatment.
  • The “Teen Screen Youth Outreach Project” is an example of a health program that focuses on sexual health education for young people living in the central coast of NSW.



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