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Sexually transmitted infections: Issues specific to adolescents

J Dennis Fortenberry, MD, MS
Section Editors
Sheldon L Kaplan, MD
Diane Blake, MD
Deputy Editor
Mary M Torchia, MD


Adolescence is a heterogeneous developmental period in terms of sexual behavior and risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Early adolescence begins during the first years of the second decade and is marked by rapid physical growth and attainment of secondary sex characteristics. Middle adolescence begins at approximately age 14 years, ends around age 17 to 18 years, and is marked by maturation of the reproductive systems and achievement of adult physical stature. Increased sexual interest and noncoital sexual behaviors are characteristic of middle adolescence.

The average age of first coitus is approximately 16 years among American adolescents, but the age is lower in certain populations, such as inner city youth. Late adolescence ends with the transition into young adulthood and is associated with high levels of sexual activity and acquisition of STIs.

This topic will focus on aspects of STIs that are particularly relevant in adolescents. Details about clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of individual infections are discussed separately.

(See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of Chlamydia trachomatis infections" and "Treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis infection".)

(See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection in adults and adolescents" and "Treatment of uncomplicated gonococcal infections" and "Disseminated gonococcal infection".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 23, 2017.
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