Why talk to your children about sex?

Talking about sex and relationships with your children as they grow up can help them look after their sexual health when they start having sex.

See Talking to your teen and Talking to your child for ideas on how to discuss sex and relationships

It won't make them want to start having sex. Here are five good reasons to be open about sex with your child.

Your child wants the facts about sex 

A survey found that one in four (25%) teenagers feels confused, worried or even scared about sex and relationships, and that most teens would like to talk to their parents or carer about it.

Teenagers see images of sex in films, magazines, newspapers, adverts, on television and on the internet, but this doesn't mean that they know the facts. They may be receiving confused and inaccurate messages. You can help them know what's true and what's not.

Talking about sex helps them wait

Evidence shows that if you talk to your teen about sex and relationships, they'll feel less pressure to have sex, which means they're more likely to wait. Talking openly gives them the confidence to approach the topic with a boyfriend or girlfriend in the future.

It helps them make decisions about sex

By ensuring that your child knows about contraception (the methods, how they work and where to get them) and safer sex, you are helping them to make choices when they decide to have sex.

You'll help them avoid taking risks that could lead to unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Every teenager should know about contraception and safer sex, whether they're a boy or girl, lesbian or gay, straight or bisexual.

Chlamydia is a real risk

Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed STI. Seventy per cent of girls and 50% of boys who are infected have no symptoms. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause complications, including infertility.

Your teenager needs to know that condoms help protect against infections such as chlamydia and other STIs. They also need to know where to get tested. A simple urine test or swab can detect chlamydia, which can be easily treated.

Find sexual health services in your area.

You can be the person they trust

Once in secondary school, your child will be going through puberty and hearing half-truths and myths from other kids. They might think that everyone else is having sex, but the truth is that most teenagers don't have sex until they're at least 16.

This is a great opportunity to become someone that your child can go to for information, help and advice.

For ideas on how to start the conversation on sex and relationships, see Talking to your teen.

Video: where to get contraception

Watch this video to find out where to get contraception confidentially.

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Page last reviewed: 04/12/2013

Next review due: 04/12/2015


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Talking to your teenager about sex

What's the best way to discuss sex with your teenager? In this video, see what other parents and teenagers think, and get expert advice on when and how to start talking about it.

Media last reviewed: 12/06/2014

Next review due: 12/06/2016

Talking to your child about sex

Tips on answering questions, naming body parts and talking openly with a younger child