There are plenty of ways to interpret “stay safe” especially when it comes to being a teenager. For example, don’t drink and drive, or be careful about how you communicate on the internet. These seem to be topics that are fairly easy to discuss with adults. However, there is one topic that isn’t necessarily the most comfortable to discuss which is safe sex. Recently I was introduced to the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center via their annual Condom Couture Fashion Show/Fundraiser. My editor, Heather Okimoto, Queen of Denver Style Magazine was chosen to be the MC for this year’s show and I decided to join her as a model. However, I faced a bit of a dilemma, you see I am a fashion blogger and a stylist, but I am not a designer! However, lucky for me, one of my best friends since middle school, Mabel McKenna, is a very talented designer/illustrator. So I invited Mabel to dress me in head-to-toe condoms and she was happy to accept the challenge.
As I drove to Boulder to pick up over 1,000 pink and yellow condoms for Mabel to use,I had to laugh about the situation, but it also made me think. There are so many teens out there that are either scared, uneducated or simply embarrassed to get the help or advice they need in order to stay safe (this includes boys and girls). So I asked the staff at the health center to provide me with some of the more common questions asked by teens and answers to help them stay healthy, informed and safe:
Can I get birth control without having to tell my parents?
It is important to know that in the state of Colorado, the law says that minors have the right to access any sexual healthcare without the consent or notification of their parents. That means they can start a birth control method, get tested for STIs, or get any other sexual healthcare without their parents being involved at all. In fact, it’s illegal for clinics to share sexual health information with parents (or anyone else!) without an individual’s permission.
I had unprotected sex, now what happens when I go to get tested for unprotected sex?
When testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, someone has to wait at least 2 weeks before getting tested. If someone did contract Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, it will only show an accurate result 14 days after exposure. To test for these STIs, someone will usually urinate in a cup. The lab will be able to test the urine for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea and you will get results within 1-2 weeks.
When testing for Syphilis or HIV, the usual time period that you have to wait is 3 months. After 3 months, someone will receive an accurate result. To test for these STIs, someone will usually have their blood drawn. The lab will test the blood and you will get results within 1-2 weeks.
Like I said, these might not be the easiest questions to ask, but it’s better to ask than stay silent and uninformed. The Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center has a Teen Clinic that specializes in ensuring teens have access to the healthcare they need. And all their services are low-cost, or free, and always confidential.
The Condom Couture Show was one of the most inclusive and warmest shows I’ve ever attended. The models and designers were so helpful backstage. Everyone pitched in to make sure makeup looked great and that last minute condoms were sewn on with care and speed. The time we got to spend together getting our hair done at Twig Salon was full of laughter, support and chocolate chip cookies! We all worked for one common purpose to raise money and awareness for women’s health. I am so proud that I got to walk the runway for this incredible organization. And thanks again to Mabel for all her creativity and hard work. Photo credit: BlueTalonPhotography