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Sex education and contraception
Most parents dread the thought of having to talk to their child about sex. However, it is one of the most important discussions you will have with them. Sex education is a necessary step on the journey of guiding children towards becoming adults and teaching them how to protect themselves. This is why it is imperative that parents provide them with the information necessary to empower them to make good and well thought out choices in the future.
While most parents would rather think their teenagers won’t have sex, the reality is a large percentage of teens in their early to mid teens are sexually active. Trying to avoid a discussion about sex won’t stop your child from doing it; it will just put her at risk as she won’t be as informed about the dangers and the reality of becoming sexually active.
In actual fact, experts have found that when parents have open and frank conversations about sex, their children are more likely to wait until later to have sex. They are also less likely to have a teen pregnancy in the family.
If you find it too difficult to talk to your teen, arrange for her to speak with another trusted adult or make an appointment with a GP. When you speak about sex, be positive and tell your teen that it is an important part of a healthy relationship but that she also needs to be ready. Make sure she understands that it’s ok to say no and not to feel guilty.
Whether you like it or not or whether you even know it, your teen may start having sex. Talking about sex won’t make them become sexually active, but it will protect her if she does decide to have sex.
Condoms are a good, reliable choice for safe sex, particularly for teenagers. Just like any other contraceptives, they need to be used properly to ensure they are effective. They should be put on before sex occurs. A new condom is required each time. Condoms also help protect against sexually transmitted infections (STDs)
Many young girls go on the contraceptive pill for reasons other than to prevent pregnancy. It is an excellent contraceptive, but has to be taken every day. Illness such as vomiting and diarrhoea can affect the pill, as can taking antibiotics.
There are other contraceptive methods available that you could discuss with your daughter, though some are probably not the best choice for a young person.
IUDs only protect against pregnancy and don’t protect against disease so can give a false sense of security.
This is a hormone that is injected and lasts up to three months at a time.
A tiny plastic rod that contains small amounts of hormone is implanted under the arm. It lasts for around three years.
The emergency contraceptive pill or the 'Morning after Pill'
This can be taken up to three days after having unprotected sex, to prevent pregnancy. It doesn't protect against disease and prevention from having to take it in the first place is a much better option. However, it can be useful in the case of condom or other contraceptive failure, regarding it is taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex occurs.
Read more: How to talk to your tweens about sex