Kids grow up really fast. Middle school is full of big events like lockers, sleep-overs, football games and your daughter’s doctor asking her about birth control options. Wait… What?
In an office where you used to discuss Flintstone vitamins and Tylenol, your child’s pediatrician or physician will soon be bringing up issues related to their sexuality. The following information can help you prepare, in advance, for the questions that could come up in the doctor’s office.
Remember that even though doctors are experts in medicine, YOU are the expert of your child. Decisions about their vaccinations and which prescription drugs they should take are ultimately yours.
So where to begin?
Should your teen girls receive their annual check-ups from their pediatricians or a gynecologist? This is a decision that you, as a parent, can make based on the doctors in your area and who you feel comfortable with.
Before the Visit
Talk to your daughter’s physician before the visit and ask her what information she plans to share with patients your daughter’s age regarding sexuality. For a list of physicians who support a pro-abstinence approach, visit this site: http://onemoresoul.com/nfp_by_spec/Family_Practice-Internal_Medicine Also, don’t hesitate to ask about where they stand on abstinence, chastity and abortion.
Always insist on being with your daughter when she visits her doctor or any health provider. Being prepared for the following discussions helps to convey to your daughter the importance of her sexuality and your concerns about caring for her God-given gift of fertility:
Topics That May Come Up
The HPV Vaccine (also known as Gardasil).
HPV, or the Human Papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to cervical cancer For a more detailed explanation, go to: http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF07H25.pdf
You may also want to contact the Medical Institute for Sexual Health for additional information: http://www.medinstitute.org/
The Center for Disease Control issued the following report, which includes information about Gardasil: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv-vaccine.html
The vaccination is not forbidden by the Catholic Church, however the Church encourages parents to explain to their children that the only way to fully prevent sexually transmitted diseases and infections is abstinence. In a statement from the Virginia Bishops which appeared in the Arlington Catholic Herald, they clarified that:
With many popular forces in today’s society encouraging irresponsible and immoral behavior, parents are rightly concerned that their daughters not receive a mixed message about the importance of chastity. However, we also recognize that the prevalence of HPV makes exposure to the virus possible even in a marriage, due to the possibility of a spouse’s exposure as a result of sexual activity prior to marriage. Sadly, we also live in a society where non-consensual sex remains a threat to young women and therefore a source of potential exposure to HPV. (taken from http://www.catholicherald.com/local_news/detail.html?sub_id=9918).
Ultimately the decision about the HPV vaccination is one which is up to you, as the parent.
Doctors will prescribe Oral Contraception for a variety of issues listed below. These are powerful hormones that are intended to prevent pregnancy. However, while oral contraception can temporarily alleviate some health issues encountered in adolescence they have serious side effects such as mood swings, weight gain and an increased risk for heart attack or stroke, to name a few. Hormonal contraceptives are also linked with causing cancer and are a Class I carcinogen according to the World Health Organization. The risk for cancer increases the younger a woman begins using chemical contraception.
The other concern with oral contraception is that, while it is not forbidden by the Catholic Church when it is used as a means of treating other medical conditions, anecdotal evidence demonstrates that girls will begin taking oral contraception for one reason or another and then, when encountering sexual temptation will see it as a “safety net” of sorts.
For more information of the risks of Contraception, visit http://onemoresoul.com/category/contraception/risks-consequences.
Also, Family Honor cannot stress enough that many times Oral Contraception is used to treat the symptoms of gynecological problems without addressing the serious underlying problems. The Pope Paul VI Institute (http://www.popepaulvi.com) and Gianna Center http://spphysicianassociates.com/our-services/gianna-center/
offer resources for specific issues. Consult http://onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory for a list of physicians who will seek to identify the underlying cause of problems and not just opt for contraception as a quick fix for symptoms.
Oral Contraceptives and Acne
The fluctuating hormone levels that occur in adolescence can cause acne. Physicians will sometimes suggest oral contraceptives as a means to regulate hormone levels and possibly clear up acne. This is one of the clearest articles explaining the theory behind prescribing birth control for acne: http://www.livestrong.com/article/13901-using-birth-control-pills-for-acne-control/ and explains that it is not an effective solution. While blemishes are normal in adolescence, if they become overwhelming a visit to a Dermatologist can offer more options.
It’s normal for an adolescent’s menstrual cycle to take years to become regular. Weight loss or weight gain, stress and travel can also contribute to irregularity in ones cycle. The hormones will cause ones cycle to appear to be regular, but does not fix whatever might be causing an irregular cycle.
There are other serious health issues for which doctors will often prescribe Oral Contraception as a quick remedy (such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Severe Premenstrual Syndrome or Depression). However, this will not remedy the cause, only the symptoms.
The following institutions offer treatment and resources:
When addressing concerns about our daughter’s gift of fertility let us remember the SPICE concept that is presented in Family Honor programs. This basically means that, being totally sexual beings, the Physical “petal” of your daughter must be balanced with all other dimensions of her feminine nature (Spiritual, Intellectual, Creative and Emotional.)
Our daughters deserve our guidance in caring for their sexual powers in the gift of fertility. In a real sense, we have a sacred duty to our daughters in their innocent years to help negotiate the very best health practices and health care for their emerging power of fertility. By knowing about human fertility, by treasuring it and maintaining its integrity our daughters will appreciate the tremendous power they have to be pro-creative. Experiencing her gift of fertility in optimum health should lead a young woman to happy and holy beliefs and attitudes about her sexuality and the uniqueness of her feminine gifts.