Women's Health Resources

Sex Issues and Your Teen

It is very important that you discuss the topic of sex with your teen.

  • Ideally, this should begin at an early age, when your child begins asking questions about his body and “where babies come from”.
  • Give information about sex as he needs it and that is age appropriate.
  • Simple, concrete answers are best for younger children.
  • By the teen years, your child will want and need to have more information.

The topic of sex can be uncomfortable and even embarrassing for you and your teen, especially at first.

  • Having a third party present (family friend, doctor, clergy, teacher) may help you and your teen feel less awkward.
  • In time, these talks should get easier.
  • If your teen asks you something that you do not have an answer for, be honest about this and then find out.
  • If the communication is honest, your teen will be more likely to come to you with questions about sex as she would about any other subject.

Conversations about sex should be ongoing and regular rather than one very long conversation.

  • Try to establish a relationship with your child that she feels is safe for asking questions and sharing her feelings.
  • DO NOT ridicule or criticize her questions or answers.
  • Let your teen lead the discussion.
  • Often teens think they know all the answers.
  • Ask her to explain what she knows about a particular area.
  • This may give you a better opportunity to correct false information and guide her in the facts.

These conversations also give you the chance to share your views, values, and concerns, and why they are important to you.

  • Your approach to this topic may shape how your teen feels about himself and his sexual well being.
  • If you are not the source of information, your child’s peers and the media (TV, movies, music, and magazines) will provide what is usually a very distorted view of sex and sexuality.
  • Some studies have shown that children who learn about sex from friends and the media are more likely to be irresponsible in their sexual behavior than those who learn from their parents.
  • Giving information about sex will not make your teen want to have sex but rather informs and educates him in a responsible manner.

Some important concepts to discuss:

  • Correct names for body parts and functions of the sex organs
  • Puberty, its purpose and what happens to both boys and girls, and that it is normal
  • Menstrual cycle (period), erections, and wet dreams
  • Strong sexual urges and masturbation
  • Sexual intercourse and emotional values
  • Birth control methods including abstinence
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), HIV and AIDS
  • Pregnancy
  • Pressure to have sex, saying “no”, being forced into sex, and date rape
  • Different sexual orientations