When should I talk with my daughter about birth control?
Zarine Kotian, MD, is an OB/GYN on staff at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. Her office can be reached at (602) 298-8977.
Question: When is the appropriate time to begin discussing sex health issues with my daughter and what are the most important points to raise?
Answer: For many parents, the timing and content of sex health-related discussions can be tricky to navigate. Even though many schools offer sex education at various grade levels, parents shouldn’t wait for schools but should instead take an active role in educating their children about sex health issues.
Children begin to explore their bodies at a young age, even as toddlers, making it important to talk to them about their anatomy early on – using age appropriate terms that advance as they get older.
Unfortunately, it has been my experience that many young girls simply do not have a basic concept of how their body works. As a girl gets older, it is important to educate her about the anatomy, growth and functions of her body. This includes how the body changes with puberty, the menstrual cycle, and what it means to ovulate.
Additionally, like it or not, the issue of sexual activity cannot be ignored. Statistically speaking, many young teenagers become sexually active during their high school years, some even in middle school. As a result, there are many issues that need to be discussed and understood before sexual activity becomes a reality.
Birth control, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, self worth, resisting being pressured into sex, being comfortable with a partner, and the HPV vaccine are all topics that parents should thoroughly address when discussing sex health issues with their daughters.
Along with being educated, it is important that young girls are comfortable discussing body and sex health issues and have someone with whom they are comfortable discussing these issues with.
Parents are instrumental in a young woman being confident in herself and being able to ask the right questions. Also, just as with other health matters, physicians are a great resource for information and can also help facilitate sex health discussions in order to make sure the proper issues and accurate information are addressed and fully understood.
Reviewed July 2010