The most common teen sexual health myths according to Dr. Sophia Yen's study, an adolescent medicine specialist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital:
- Emergency contraception is hard to obtain. In reality, emergency contraception is available over the counter to those aged 18 and older. It is also available to minors directly from authorized pharmacists in nine states, including California.
- Emergency contraception causes an abortion. Emergency contraception does not cause an abortion; it is not the same as RU-486.
- Adolescents can't use IUDs (intrauterine devices) for birth control. This advice is out of date. IUDs are now considered safe for adolescents, including those who have never had children and/or who are serially monogamous.
- The Pill causes weight gain. A recent review of 47 randomized controlled trials showed that modern hormonal birth control does not cause weight gain.
- You should get your first Pap smear as soon as you start having sex. Again, this is outdated advice: Current guidelines say young women should have their first Pap smear at age 21.
- You can't get STDs from kissing. Although it is almost impossible to get HIV by kissing, Herpes can be transmitted by kissing an infected individual.
About Dr. Sophia Yen:
Sophia Yen, MD, MPH, is an adolescent medicine specialist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and a clinical instructor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
She cares for patients at the Packard Children's Teen and Young Adult Clinic, and conducts research on teens' sexual health and on electronic gadgets to treat or prevent pediatric obesity. Dr. Yen is board-certified in both adolescent medicine and pediatrics.
Dr. Yen grew up in the Bay Area and went to Homestead High School in Cupertino. She then went to MIT, UCSF Medical School, Children's Hospital of Oakland for pediatrics residency, UCSF for Adolescent Medicine fellowship and UC Berkeley for MPH in Child and Maternal Health, focusing on obesity.
She hopes someday to be the first surgeon general to say masturbation without being asked to resign.