Few parents want to face the idea that their teens are having sex — but research shows that many teens are sexually active by high school, potentially putting themselves at risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When it comes to teens and sex, the key is discussing the importance of contraception before sexual activity begins.
When broaching the topic of teens and sex, it’s never too late to talk about abstinence. Whether you feel strongly that sex before marriage is wrong or you simply want your teen to postpone sex until he or she is more mature, explain your feelings to your teen. If you share the reasons behind your beliefs, your teen may be more likely to understand and adopt your values.
Also ask your teen to think about his or her own values and hopes for the future — and consider how sex might affect them. Explain that:
Teens and sex can be a risky combination
There are many nonsexual ways he or she can show feelings for someone
The only sure way to prevent teen pregnancy and STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes and HIV, is to abstain from sex — oral, vaginal and anal
Abstinence can also save your teen some emotional stress if his or her relationship ends.
Discussing birth control options
Understanding birth control methods is an important life skill for everyone. Whether your teen decides to have sex or wait, make sure your teen knows how to prevent pregnancy and protect himself or herself from sexually transmitted infections.
Don’t be afraid that talking to your teen about contraception will encourage him or her to have sex. Your teen is likely curious about sex and contraception, whether or not you bring up the topic. By being open and honest, you can help your teen make informed decisions and act more responsibly when he or she decides to have sex — whether it’s now or years in the future.
If you’re having trouble talking to your teen about contraception, ask your teen’s doctor for help. He or she may offer advice on how to talk to your teen and accurately answer questions about contraception.