Most parents discuss sex and teenage pregnancy with their teenage children, but many forget the importance of talking to their children about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). STDs are a very real reprecussion of sex and teenagers are more likely than any other demographic to contract an STD. Parents need to be aware of this and talk to their teenagers about the dangers of STDs as well as how to prevent them. Even if a parent doesn’t believe that their teen is sexually active, it’s better to ensure the teen is aware of the risks before they’ve even engaged in sexual activity.
Even though most parents dread having discussions of a sexual nature with their child, it’s important to do so candidly. Don’t assume your child knows things that they may not. Refrain from using nicknames for body parts. Rather, use the correct terms, such as “penis,” “vagina,” and “semen.” Be prepared you may have to explain terms if your teen seems unsure what something means. Your teen may not tell you they don’t understand, so watch for signs of confusion or bewilderment.
Clarify What Sex Is
Many teens are under the impression that only vaginal penetration by the penis is truly sex. Explain to your teen that sex includes all sexual activity, from oral and anal sex, to touching each other’s genitals. Explain that STDs can be transmitted through almost any sexual contact, and in some cases, even through non-sexual contact. Make sure your teen knows what “counts” as sex or sexual activity.
When you’re planning on discussing STDs with your teen, you should come prepared with information regarding some of the major STDs. Include information such as statistics, symptoms, how it is spread, treatments available for the disease and whether or not the disease is curable. You may even include photos of the diseases. Ensure your child understands that STDs don’t always have symptoms and can cause irreversible damage to the body before the disease is even detected.
Condoms & Birth Control Aren’t Foolproof
Many teens make the mistake of believing that condoms and birth control will protect them from STDs. Birth control provides absolutely no protection against STDs while condoms only provide limited protection from only certain STDs. It is important for parents to make sure their child knows that even with the use of condoms, STDs such as herpes (which is spread by skin to skin contact) can still be transmitted. Other diseases that condoms normally protect against, can also be spread, even if the condom is used perfectly.
Ask your teen if they have any questions about STDs and let them know that even if you don’t know the answer right away, you can find it for them. Make sure they know that they can come to you with any questions, or if they feel they may need to be tested, they should let you know as soon as possible.
How to Talk to Teens About STDs
Teens and STDs