Female Adolescents’ Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Introduction

Prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is a critical matter of concern not only for hospital units and the healthcare systems but also for financial institutions and non-profit organizations. Addressing this challenge requires allocating vast resources from state budgets. The impact of sexually transmitted diseases is detrimental, as they decrease the quality of patients’ lives, cause significant discomfort, and deteriorate the condition of human health, not to mention the need for special treatment, which is usually lengthy and costly.

According to the reports of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016a), around 86 percent of medical care state allocations invest in combating the epidemic of chronic diseases. In addition to it, the same organization points to the fact that more than 20 million STDs instances are registered every year. Among them, around 50 percent of cases documented for adolescents, i.e., people aged between 15 and 24 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016b). Still, the most troubling detail about STDs is the fact that they are easy to prevent, which means that it is ignorance of body signals and the lack of basic knowledge that worsen the situation and make the existing problem even more severe.

This paper will pay significant attention to preventing sexually transmitted diseases among female adolescents. There are several reasons for choosing this topic. First of all, it is the statistical figures of STDs among adolescents that contribute to the necessity of investigating this problem. Moreover, this group of population is highly susceptible to the risks of sexually transmitted diseases due to the biological peculiarities of young bodies, feeling embarrassed to discuss protection against sexually transmitted infections with doctors and partners, and excessive freedom in the choice of sexual partners (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016b). However, the primary motivation for investigating this problem is that more than 25 thousand young women are diagnosed with infertility each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). It should be noted that it is an officially documented figure, which means that the real situation is even more daunting.

The impact of sexually transmitted diseases on female health is dreadful. First of all, sometimes symptoms are mild, so that it is complicated to diagnose a problem. Nevertheless, even in case of timely diagnosis and adequate care, the consequences are still terrifying. For instance, STDs lead to urethritis and salpingitis (Borges et al., 2010). In the long run, they usually cause pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine cervical cancer, ectopic pregnancy, and even infertility (Borges et al., 2010; Gabster, Mohammed, Arteaga, Catillero, & Mojica, 2016). At the same time, it should be noted that even if the impact of sexually transmitted diseases of female health is not crucial, they still affect the quality of intimate relationships and reproductive functions.

The study of preventing sexually transmitted diseases among female adolescents is easily incorporated into the overall health promotion system and disease prevention. There are several ways to achieve this objective. First and foremost, it is critical to highlight the overwhelming influence of STDs on female health and quality of life. Moreover, enjoining social responsibility, i.e., individual contribution to the healthy future of the homeland is crucial. Pointing to the role of healthy women in a nationwide context is the major motivation for highlighting this step’s significance. Another initiative is to remind of the simplicity of protective measures such as contraception, education, and open communication with doctors and sexual partners regarding existing health concerns and ways to cope with them (Steiner, Liddon, Swartzendruber, Rasberry, & Sales, 2016). Finally, it is essential to emphasize that even if the problem emerged, it could be managed and treated without significant negative consequences for the condition of women’s health. It is only vital to notice the slightest body signals and have laboratory tests made on a timely basis.

That said, the focus of this paper will be made on addressing the following research questions:

  1. What are the symptoms and consequences of sexually transmitted diseases, and how they evolve?
  2. What measures are the most efficient ones for mitigating the risks of sexually transmitted diseases among female adolescents?

The rationale for crafting these two research questions is the fact that they are critical for the educational objectives of this study. Even though specific attention will be paid to preventative measures, becoming aware of symptoms and potential complications is crucial for making the paper look professional and have a powerful tone. For me, it is impossible to reflect on how to protect oneself from what is unknown and undefined. Moreover, these two questions are chosen to incorporate the findings of previous research on sexually transmitted diseases conducted in different corners of the world in one comprehensive guideline for protecting the health and wellbeing of young women. Finally, the greatest hope is that answering them in detail would contribute to underpinning the severity of the problem and motivate adolescent females to take care of their health.

Literature Review

As the primary objective of the proposed research paper is to pay specific attention to the slightest symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases and effective measures to help mitigate the risks of getting infected, it is imperative to develop a strong theoretical background for future work. Conducting a literature review, which will focus on studying signs and prevention of STDs, helps achieve this objective. Two subsections based on central research questions will make up this section. Each topic will be investigated by locating two scholarly articles to guarantee accurateness and comprehensiveness of research findings. Preference will be given to recently published studies. These include information gathered from conducting surveys and drawing conclusions based on including those infected in research samples and literature reviews. The scholarly papers were located by using Internet search tools and scanning the research methods, primary findings, and conclusions to choose appropriate articles.

Four articles were selected. Carvalho, Guimarães, Moraes, Teles, and Matos (2015) and Mapp, Hickson, Mercer, and Fellings (2016) focus on studying symptoms, while Bechtel and Trout (2015) and Decker (2016) investigate prevention. Carvalho et al. (2015) conduct a cross-sectional study involving 105 young adults aged 12 to 24 years old and based on interviews. They conclude that STDs symptoms are prevailing among adolescent females, and they are more concerned about their health. Although the article focuses on investigating the knowledge about STDs signs and symptoms, it is a valuable source of information, as a thorough literature review was conducted to identify them.

Furthermore, Mapp et al. (2016) use a mixed research method based on official medical data and 27 interviews to study STDs symptom experience. The authors determine the most common signs of sexually transmitted diseases and state that adolescent women are more susceptible to STDs. That said, even though these studies are conducted in different environments, they are similar, as both groups of authors conclude that women are at higher risk of being infected compared to men. Moreover, they do not draw hypotheses, as their studies are not quantitative.

As for the second block of articles, Decker (2016) provides an overview of STDs’ preventative measures. This study is conducted as a literature review, incorporating the summaries of several articles for drawing comprehensive conclusions. On the other hand, Bechtel and Trout (2015) publish a case report and provide detailed medical treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. These two studies are similar because they do not include research hypotheses due to the type of conducted research. However, they focus on different preventative measures, as Decker (2016) lists all common actions, while Bechtel and Trout (2015) pay specific attention to vaccination. Still, they are valuable sources of information because they help obtain an in-depth understanding of STDs prevention. The following sections will summarize the authors’ findings.

Symptoms of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Even though there is a great variety of STDs, their symptoms are almost the same, and the very problem can be diagnosed by identifying the bacteria, which led to disease. That is why this paper will pay significant attention to those signs that are common to all sexually transmitted diseases. First of all, STDs are associated with vaginal and urethral discharge. Moreover, itching and pain during urination are commonly felt. These infections are also signaled by itching and burning in genitals as well as pain in the lower abdomen, not connected to individual specificities of a menstrual cycle.

In some cases, inguinal lymphadenopathy is also a symptom of sexually transmitted diseases (Carvalho et al., 2015). Other common signs are pain and bleeding during or after sexual intercourse and unpleasant vaginal odor. Genital warts, blisters, and lumps might also point to sexually transmitted diseases. Finally, these infections are accompanied by bleeding between menstrual periods (Mapp et al., 2016). However, some cases of STDs are asymptomatic.

When investigating the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases, it is paramount to point out that some symptoms and signs are more common than the others. That said, itching and pain in genitals, vaginal discharge and unpleasant odor caused by this health condition, lower abdominal, and pelvic pain, and pain and bleeding during and after sexual intercourse are the most widespread signals of STDs (Carvalho et al., 2015; Mapp et al., 2016). Also, there are some risk factors, which significantly aggravate the magnitude of symptoms. They include genital piercing, alcohol and drug abuse, and some genetic and health-related factors such as a predisposition to infections caused by the history of a mother’s infection during pregnancy (Carvalho et al., 2015).

Preventing Sexually Transmitted Diseases

It is critical to be aware of efficient preventative measures to keep in mind that any noticeable symptoms do not signal some sexually transmitted disease, which might help mitigate the risks of being infected. First and foremost, it is crucial to point to the significance of launching an educational initiative at schools. Young adults should be taught about the criticality of the problem and the negative influence of sexually transmitted diseases on the condition of female health from the slightest discomfort to the most severe outcomes such as pelvic inflammatory disease, cancer, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and even death. More than that, they should be aware of the ways to protect themselves, such as using condoms and being smart when it comes to the choice of sexual partners, i.e., avoiding casual relationships, having no more than one sexual partner at a time, and reducing their number to a minimum. Local hospitals should support These educational programs to guarantee their professional tone and persuasiveness (Decker, 2016).

In addition to increasing adolescents’ knowledge base, it is imperative to implement practical steps for addressing the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases. There are two constituents of this preventative measure. First and foremost, it is vital to identify risk groups, i.e., people with risky behavior such as adolescents known for alcohol and drug abuse or numerous sex partners. Besides, biological risks should as well be estimated. For instance, obtaining sexual behavior histories on a timely basis or testing markers for HIV transitions are among effective protective measures (Decker, 2016). Some more steps include vaccination of young adolescents. This preventative measure has proved to be efficient for managing human papillomavirus, herpes, and syphilis. However, it should be carried out at the age of 10 to 13 years to guarantee its strength. Moreover, some topical creams are used as supplementation to condoms (Bechtel & Trout, 2015).

Finally, it is imperative to be aware of the importance of having an individual’s laboratory tests and screenings done on a timely basis due to both asymptomatic instances of STDs and the incubation period of some infections, i.e., being unaware of significant health concerns, which require immediate treatment. A standard recommendation is a promotion of routine annual screenings and tests for sexually transmitted infections. However, it is imperative to decrease the specified timeframe and undergo medical tests and visit a doctor in case of unprotected sexual intercourse, especially with a stranger (Bechtel & Trout, 2015; Decker, 2016).

Research Proposal

The issue of sexually transmitted diseases is a widely investigated subject. There are numerous localized and nationwide studies addressing and focusing on different aspects of STDs, such as primary symptoms of infections and their evolution, the prevalence of diseases, and efficient preventative measures and treatment practices. Researchers used both qualitative and quantitative methods for filling the existing gaps. That is why it is essential to develop a new approach to conducting this research to avoid the repetition of research findings and drawn conclusions.

Among all measures, the promotion of sexual education, the use of condoms, and screening are the most efficient for preventing and management of sexually transmitted infections (Decker, 2016). However, this study will not review the abovementioned measures. Instead, the idea is to focus on combinations of protective precautions to mitigate the risks of STDs. This approach is referred to as dual protection. It is paramount to state that, in most cases, dual protection is an action for avoiding infections and unintended pregnancy (Kottke et al., 2015; Lawani, Onyebuchi, & Lyoke, 2014). Nevertheless, there are no barriers to choosing combinations of protective measures for preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

Therefore, this research aims at addressing the following research question: What dual methods of protection are the most efficient measures for preventing sexually transmitted diseases among adolescent women?

Clinical Relevance

Before stating the reasons for choosing the abovementioned research question as to the focus of the proposed study, it is essential to define the essence of the dual method approach to protection. As stated above, it is common for minimizing the risks of both an unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. That is why, in most cases, it is a combination of condoms and oral contraceptives, i.e., barrier and non-barrier contraception (Kottke et al., 2015; Lawani et al., 2014). However, it is vital to review other possible combinations. For instance, vaccination and barrier contraception or condoms and topical crèmes are some appropriate examples of dual protection against STDs. Within the context of this research, it is imperative to note that it will not focus on educational initiatives as a tool for preventing sexually transmitted diseases. The motivation to ignore them is that they cannot be perceived as a fully functional protective precaution. Instead, the role of background education comes down to choosing an adequate method and using it properly.

There are several reasons for selecting this focus of the proposed research. First and foremost, no preventative measures guarantee absolute protection against sexually transmitted infections. In other words, there is always the risk of being infected. That is why dual preventative measures might help mitigate the risks of STDs. Moreover, not all preventative measures are equally efficient for guaranteeing safety during sexual intercourse. For instance, vaccination is effective for minimizing the threat of herpes, human papillomavirus, and syphilis.

Nevertheless, it is not applicable to managing HIV, chlamydia, or other sexually transmitted infections (Bechtel & Trout, 2015). At the same time, condoms are not the most reliable method of contraception due to some instances of tearing or slipping off during intercourse. That said, dual preventative measures would improve patient outcomes. So, the promotion of this approach to protection against STDs would be beneficial for addressing the current health care challenges.

In addition to the assumed efficiency of dual preventative measures, there is a significant knowledge gap regarding it, as most researchers focused on investigating either dual methods for avoiding pregnancy and STDs or mere prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (Bechtel & Trout, 2015; Decker, 2016; Kottke et al., 2015; Lawani et al., 2014). That said, to the best of my knowledge, no recent studies are centering on the investigation of a dual approach to mitigating the risks of sexually transmitted infections, which would not emphasize avoiding unintended pregnancy.

Proposed Research Design

The wording of the question hints at an appropriate research design. Because the study aims at identifying efficient preventative measures, it will focus on analyzing objective information. From this perspective, quantitative research is appropriate research design. The rationale for choosing this design is that it helps draw accurate conclusions based on correlations and estimating percentages of efficiency of different preventative measures (Garrish & Lashlean, 2015). It is essential to note that other research designs do not correspond with the research objectives.

For instance, qualitative research focuses on perceptions and personal experiences. Ignoring this information is acceptable within the context of the selected research question because it aims to identify the most efficient combinations of preventative measures instead of discovering the most popular ones. At the same time, a mixed research design incorporates both elements of qualitative and quantitative designs. However, it does not comply with the requirements of this study due to the inclusion of the subjective aspect, which is not connected to the central research question (Streubert & Carpenter, 2011).

Nevertheless, the foundation of this research should be conducted as a thorough literature review with the focus on different preventative measures and their effectiveness. It means that it is critical to identify the efficiency of various protection precautions for mitigating the risks of different sexually transmitted diseases. That said, it is significant to find out whether any methods work better for preventing particular infections, or all of them are equally efficient. It is imperative to retrieve this data from previous scholarly findings based on quantitative research design.

The rationale for this decision is the desire to analyze only accurate information to draw accurate conclusions. Finally, it is imperative to note that there is no need to make up a sample due to the very nature of the proposed research design and the non-necessity of including participants in quantitative studies. Instead, it is critical to locate and select appropriate scholarly articles addressing different preventative measures for minimizing the risks of being infected during sexual intercourse. It is also optional to retrieve data from recent research to guarantee that the located information is relevant and up-to-date.

To sum up, the primary objective of the proposed research is to identify the combinations of efficient preventative measures to mitigate the risks of the most common sexually transmitted infections. That said, a list of dual methods and their efficiency is a desired outcome of the planned investigation. Also, the intention is to offer several options of equally effectual measures, which are easily substitutable, so that sexually active adolescents are free to choose the most easily accessible, comfortable, and satisfactory protective precaution.

References

Bechtel, M. A., & Trout, W. (2015). Sexually transmitted diseases. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 58(1), 172-184.

Borges, J., Belintani, M., Miranda, P., Camargo, A., Guarisi, R., Maia, E., & Gollop, T. (2010). The impact of educational lectures on female adolescents’ knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer in the city of Jundiai, SP. Einstein, 8(3), 285-290.

Carvalho, P., Guimarães, R., Moraes, P., Teles, S., & Matos, M. (2015). Prevalence of signs and symptoms and knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases. Acta Paulista de Enfermagem, 28(1), 95-100.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Incidence, prevalence, and cost of sexually transmitted infections in the United States. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). CDC fact sheet: Reported STDs in the United States. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016a). Chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016b). Sexually transmitted diseases. Web.

Decker, C. F. (2016). Sexually transmitted diseases: An overview. Disease-a-Month, 62(8), 258-259.

Gabster, A., Mohammed, D., Arteaga, G., Catillero, O., & Mojica, N. (2016). Correlates of sexually transmitted infections among adolescents attending public high schools, Panama, 2015. PLoS One, 11(9), 1-13. Web.

Garrish, K., & Lashlean, J. (2015). The research process in nursing (8th ed.). Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.

Kottke, M., Whiteman, M. K., Kraft, J. M., Goedken, P., Wiener, J., Kourtis, A., & DiClimente, R. (2015). Use of dual methods for protection from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in adolescent African American women. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 28(6), 543-548.

Lawani, L. O., Onyebuchi, A.K., & Lyoke, C. A. (2014). Dual method use for protection of pregnancy and disease prevention among HIV-infected women in South East Nigeria. BMC Women’s Health, 14(1), 39-45.

Mapp, F., Hickson, F., Mercer, C., & Fellings, K. (2016). How social representations of sexually transmitted infections influence experiences of genito-urinary symptoms and care-seeking in Britain: Mixed methods study protocol. BMC Public Health, 16(1), 548-556.

Steiner, R. J., Liddon, N., Swartzendruber, A. L., Rasberry, C. N., & Sales, J. M. (2016). Long-acting reversible contraception and condom use among female US high school students. JAMA Pediatrics, 170(5), 428-434.

Streubert, H. J., & Carpenter, D. R. (2011). Qualitative research in nursing (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.