How to Talk to Your Teen About Sex

Updated: May 4

Written by Marissa Thompson




Let's be honest, talking with your teen about sex may not be easy, but it’s important. You can make a difference in helping them stay healthy and make appropriate choices as they mature. Although many teens choose to practice abstinence, it's never too early to reach out and have an open conversation. Planned Parenthood outlines several talking points that are important to touch or consider when having “The Talk” to make sure you, and your children can have an honest and open conversation.



The CDC confirms that STI rates are on the rise. Now more than ever is the time to talk to your teen about safe sex.


It’s important for you to share your personal values and beliefs about sex. Spend some time thinking about your personal values, beliefs and views on sex. Think about what you’d want for your teen, this way it will be easier to send a clear message when deciding to talk about sex with your teen.


Be ready to answer questions: Their questions can tell you a lot about what they already know. Teens are inquisitive and have many questions. Their curiosity is natural, by answering their questions honestly and to the best of your ability can make a difference in how they may behave in the future.


Be honest about how you’re feeling: If this is an uncomfortable conversation to have, let your teen know! “The Talk” isn’t easy whether you’re an adult or teen. Remaining open and being transparent can help facilitate a better conversation and let your teen know they’re not alone in their feelings.


Talk about consent and partner violence: Teens are beginning to explore romantic relationships at this age. Talk to them about consent and safe boundaries within relationships. Not only is it important for you to examine your values and beliefs but encourage your teen to do the same. If anyone-including a relationship partner-makes your teen uncomfortable, let them know it’s okay to stand up for themselves or tell an adult if the situation feels unsafe.


Parents/Guardians really make a difference. Reports show that teens who have conversations with their parents or guardians about a variety of topics such as alcohol and drug use and sex are more likely to delay sex until they are older, and use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do become sexually active.


Facts on sex your teen needs to know:

  • Every time someone has vaginal, anal, or oral sex without a condom or dental dam, they're putting themselves at risk for an STI.

  • There is a wide variety of birth control methods. Birth control options should be explored if your teen is worried about unintended pregnancy.

  • STIs don’t always have symptoms. In fact, most people don't experience any symptoms at all.

  • Getting tested for STIs is really easy. It can take as little as 15 minutes and can be free!

  • Your teen should feel empowered to make their own decisions about their health and relationships. Let them know it's okay to say "No!" Practicing refusal and negotiation skills are an effective way to maintain healthy boundaries and keep your teen safe.


No one said this kind of conversation is easy! As a parent or guardian you always want your teen to be safe, healthy and happy. The ability to be vulnerable and have an open conversation about a sensitive topic shows that you care! Know that your effort is valued and appreciated. For more information on safe sex and how to speak with your teen, please visit Planned Parenthood's link to learn more.


Talking Points Derived from: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/parents/high-school/what-should-i-teach-my-high-school-aged-teen-about-sex-and-sexua


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Funding provided in whole or in part to the Kenneth Young Center by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH).