Talking to Your Teen About Sex Reduces Teen Pregnancy

The teen birth rate has been decreasing in the United States, yet it is still higher than in many other developed nations. With teenage pregnancy putting mothers at significant risk for dropping out of high school, future incarceration and related health risks, it is easy to see why it is important for teens to learn everything they can about their sexual and reproductive health.

According to Planned Parenthood “teens often name their parents as the biggest influence in their decisions about sex. And teens who report having good conversations with their parents about sex are more likely to delay sexual activity, have fewer partners, and use condoms and other contraceptives when they do have sex.”

Therefore, it is essential to have this necessary yet oftentimes uncomfortable discussion with your teens. The Mayo Clinic offers parents tips on how to talk about this sensitive subject with your teen:

Seize the moment. When a TV program or music video raises issues about responsible sexual behavior, use it as a springboard for discussion.

Be honest. If you're uncomfortable, say so — but explain that it's important to keep talking.

Be direct. Clearly state your feelings about specific issues, such as oral sex and intercourse. Present the risks objectively, including emotional pain, sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy.

Consider your teen's point of view. Don't lecture your teen or rely on scare tactics to discourage sexual activity. Instead, listen carefully. Understand your teen's pressures, challenges and concerns.

Move beyond the facts. Your teen needs accurate information about sex — but it's just as important to talk about feelings, attitudes and values.

Invite more discussion. Let your teen know that it's OK to talk with you about sex whenever he or she has questions or concerns. Reward questions by saying, "I'm glad you came to me."

Visit The Mayo Clinic's website at to learn more. If you are interested in speaking to someone about talking to your teen about sex or learning more about reproductive health services for teens, call Westside Family Health Center at (310) 450-2191 to schedule an appointment.