Talking About Sex

Sex is a natural and healthy part of life, but it’s not always the easiest topic to discuss. Whether you’re talking with kids or friends, it’s important to keep the conversation open.

Safer sex is an 18-year conversation

Not a lot of parents enjoy having “the talk” with their kids. It can be painfully awkward and it’s never really apparent if a child is listening to the topic at hand or even understands it. But, after the conversation, parents generally breathe a sigh of relief and never visit the subject again.

The problem is that teens need their parents’ guidance throughout their young lives, especially when they first become sexually active. Whether they need to know condom FAQs or more about intercourse itself, Mom and Dad should always be a safe resource for information.

“Parents should disabuse themselves of this notion that it is a one-time talk. It is and should be an 18-year conversation,” Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told Gannett News Service.

He emphasized the need for a “two-part message” that communicates the need to delay sex, but also makes sure that teens will engage in safer sex practices if they choose to become active.

You can share your personal values about sex, but be sure to back them up with hard evidence that kids are less likely to ignore. Still, the reality is that 33 percent of female teens never learned anything about contraception before engaging in sex, despite the fact that nearly half of 12th-graders reported being sexually active.

The Guttmacher Institute states that the average age Americans begin to have sex is 17, which means that they are waiting longer than in years past. Those who did not have sex cited religious and moral reasons for abstaining, although there were also concerns about pregnancy. By age 19, seven out of 10 teens have had sex.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state the one of the most effective ways to reduce pregnancy and the risk for STDs is to wear a condom every time one chooses to have intercourse with a partner.

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