Everyone, regardless of gender, needs be educated on sexual health matters and have access to sexual healthcare resources. However, two new studies conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center found that the sexual health of teen boys is being overlooked. One example that the researchers gave was that primary-care pediatricians are three times more likely to take a sexual history from girls than boys, and are twice as likely to talk to females about the importance of condom use.
Understanding the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the importance of practicing safer sex is key to reducing infection rates in the U.S., and yet researchers are finding that teen boys are not being given the information they need. Furthermore, the studies found that young men are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, which shows that they truly require more education in this area.
For example, the researchers noted that past studies found that 26 percent of sexually active young men have had sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and nearly 30 percent have engaged in unprotected intercourse.
The scientists believe that a lack of guidelines regarding what services need to be offered to teen boys in terms of sexual health, such as STD testing, may be to blame.
“Many clinicians currently forego delivering some or many of these services because of limited time during visits, lack of evidence on the benefit of doing so and absence of guidelines on how to go about it,” said lead author Arik Marcell, M.D., M.P.H., a teen health expert at Hopkins Children’s. The researchers said that creating guidelines for physicians to follow that include offering STD testing to boys 13 and older, screening for substance abuse and mental health issues, and discussing the male role in pregnancy could help reduce the risky sexual behaviors that these young men are engaging in.