Wednesday, May 29

How to Talk to Your Teen About Sex: Essential Tips for Parents to Prevent STIs and Promote Healthy Relationships

Parents find it difficult to discuss sex with their teenagers at any age. Many parents are reluctant to discuss it because they believe that doing so would be equivalent to endorsing it. Yet, 30% of high school students nationwide who participate in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) report having had sex by the end of their studies.

Learn effective strategies for parents to discuss sex and STI prevention with teenagers. This comprehensive guide covers essential tips for promoting healthy relationships, understanding common STIs, and ensuring your teen's health and safety. Discover how to approach this critical conversation confidently and responsibly.

Finding out for sure if your adolescent has had sex might be challenging. Even if they haven't, it's probable that they will eventually, so they should be prepared with knowledge to help maintain their health and safety.

Information that parents should be aware of regarding STDs

STIs, or sexually transmitted infections, are exceedingly prevalent. They can be transmitted through all forms of sex and may be brought on by bacteria, viruses, or other microbes. Even though the majority of STIs are curable, they can still impact a person's ability to conceive, harm a developing fetus, and occasionally result in serious difficulties or a permanent infection. Teens should be aware of them because of this.

Basic information about some of the most prevalent infections is provided below, including their causes, potential symptoms, and available treatments.


The most common bacterial STI in the US to be reported is chlamydia; however, there may be more instances than we know because many of them are asymptomatic.

If symptoms are present, they may include pain when urinating, discharge from the penis or vagina, or—in rare cases—pain and swelling in the testicles. It can be diagnosed by a urine test or by taking a swab from the affected area. Antibiotics can treat it. Infertility can result from it if left untreated; this is more frequent in women than in men.


Another STI brought on by bacteria is gonorrhea, which can likewise have no symptoms. When they manifest, the symptoms closely resemble those of chlamydia. For both men and women, gonorrhea can also result in infertility. Although curable, certain infections have shown resistance to the common medications used, necessitating further testing and care.

Trichomonas infection

A protozoa is the cause of trichomoniasis. This STI also has the potential to be asymptomatic. In most cases, drainage, itching, and irritation are the symptoms. Medication can be used to treat it.


The incidence of syphilis has increased. When an infection first appears, the site of entry is typically a solid, circular, painless sore. Usually present for three to six weeks, the sore may go undiagnosed due to its lack of pain.

The second stage is characterized by a more widespread rash, which may be subtle and go undiagnosed, as well as general symptoms of illness, including fever, sore throat, exhaustion, enlarged lymph nodes, or weight loss.

Syphilis can persist in the body for years and occasionally impact organ systems, including the brain, if it is not treated. Antibiotics can treat it, but the damage it might cause could be irreversible if it is discovered too late. Pregnancy can make this infection more dangerous.

Herpes simplex virus, or HSV

Hsv is the source of blistering sores. Genital herpes and oral herpes are two different conditions. Although oral sex can result in genital herpes, oral herpes, which is caused by HSV1, is not often brought on by sex. HSV2 is the more common cause of genital herpes.

Herpes can reoccur at any point in life. Herpes cannot be cured; however, there are drugs that can delay or stop outbreaks. Although the dangers can be controlled with appropriate prenatal care, this infection can be very harmful during pregnancy.


HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is more prevalent in individuals with other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), mostly because STIs are indicators of hazardous sexual conduct. It can be rather difficult to diagnose because the initial symptoms often resemble the flu, and some patients experience prolonged periods of no symptoms at all.

HIV cannot be cured; however, there are drugs that can both prevent and control the disease.

The most common sexually transmitted infection is HPV, or human papilloma virus. Even very close skin-to-skin contact can spread it, and infections typically show no symptoms.

Over 90 percent of HPV cases resolve on their own, but in those that don't, the virus can eventually lead to genital warts or certain malignancies. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that may be administered starting at age 9 that effectively prevents HPV.

Educating teenagers on STI prevention

This sounds terrifying all together. However, teens may take some easy steps to avoid infections or reduce problems, which is why parents should have a conversation with them.

Teens are capable of:

Every time they engage in sexual activity, they wear condoms and wear them correctly. About half of high school students who are sexually active don't consistently use condoms, according to the aforementioned survey.

Keep the number of partners they have for sex to a minimum, and speak openly with them before engaging in sexual activity. Before beginning a sexual relationship, it can be helpful to inquire about a partner's past sexual history and be tested.

Take tests on a regular basis. Adolescents who engage in sexual activity have to undergo annual testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, or more frequently if indicated by their sexual history or symptoms. It might also be a good idea to test for further infections. 95% of high school students in the YRBS reported not having had an STI test in the previous year, which is alarming considering that over a third said they were sexually active.

Make sure the teen visits the doctor on a regular basis. Additionally, urge children to tell the truth to their doctor when they see him or her. You can assist as a parent by allowing your adolescent to spend private time with the doctor.

Photo by Julia M Cameron

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