Featured Articles

There’s more than just talk to having “The Talk” with your teen.

Raising a teenager can be one of the toughest and most demanding jobs there is, but the rewards can be amazing. Teens need adults in their lives who are there for them and show an interest in them – who make the effort to connect, communicate and spend time with them.

A positive experience requires that at some point, an adolescent’s primary adult caregiver talk with them about sex-related topics, including healthy relationships and the prevention of HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy.

So how do you do that? Read on!

How can parents and guardians talk to their kids about sex?

Fortunately, this subject has been widely researched, and a number of programs in a variety of settings have been successful in increasing the amount and quality of communication between parents/guardians and their teens.

Perhaps the more important question is: Will talking to my kid about sex make any difference? According to research, as well as national surveys of teenagers, the answer is yes. Studies have found that teens who report talking with their parents or guardians about sex are more likely to delay having sex and less likely to engage in behaviors that place them at risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that parents and guardians:

What should you talk about?

It’s important that your conversations with your teen not focus just on the consequences of risky sexual behaviors. Many teens receive these messages in health education class or elsewhere. As a parent or guardian, you have the opportunity to discuss other related topics with your teen. You can:

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. In fact, HPV is so common that the CDC estimates that almost every sexually active person will get HPV at some point if they don’t get vaccinated.

HPV is spread by having sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex, but it also spreads through close skin-to-skin touching during sex. A person with HPV can pass the infection to someone even when they have no signs or symptoms as those may not develop until years later. This makes it hard to know when you first got it.

In most cases (about nine out of 10), HPV goes away on its own within two years, but when it doesn’t, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.

How can your teen avoid HPV?

Your teen can do several things to lower their chances of getting HPV – both now, as a teen, and in the future as they become young adults. These include:

The CDC recommends HPV vaccination for all preteens at age 11 or 12 years (or starting as early as age 9) as well as everyone through age 26, if not vaccinated already. With some exceptions related to certain risk factors, vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26.

For more tips on talking with your teen, visit the CDC’s webpage on positive parenting practices, and check out these resources for more information on HPV prevention: