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Teaching Moment: Talking to Your Teen about Safe Sex

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 7:53 AM

As parents, it can be pretty easy to get upset upon learning that teens are sexually active. Before losing your cool, Sharon Robinson, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, explains that it’s best to stay calm and have an open dialogue regarding safe sex practices. The most important concern as parents should be your teen’s safety.


To begin, see what your teen knows about sex. This will help you gauge how to start the discussion. If you need further guidance on how to discuss sexual education with your child, talk to their doctor for tips. Even if you believe that your teen is not sexually active, talking to them about safe sex is an important conversation to have.

Dr. Robinson provides some safe sex guidelines that you can go over with your teen:

  • Go over why safe sex is crucial to preventing pregnancy, STDs and other risky behaviors.
  • Discuss how to properly use and put on condoms.
  • If or when sexually active, teens should limit partners to one to reduce exposure to diseases.
  • Before beginning relations with a partner, ask about their past sexual experiences and history of STDs.
  • Female teenagers should make an appointment with their healthcare provider to discuss ways to prevent and screen for STDS and cervical cancer.
  • Teens should not be afraid to check their bodies. If there are any signs of a rash, bumps, discharge or unusual smell, it could be a sign of a STD.
  • Parents should share factual information with teens and not use scare tactics to dissuade sexual activity. It is important that your teen feels comfortable coming to you for advice.

While it may be an awkward conversation to have, it’s an important one. Teens often pretend that they are not listening but they value your opinion and look to you for guidance and support.

If you are still unsure how to discuss this topic with your teen or want more information, talk to their healthcare provider.

How did you approach your teen when discussing safe sex?