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Whether teenagers discuss it with their parents or not, they are likely to feel some aspect of social pressure regarding the initiation of sexual activity. In counseling our teenage girls, I try to get them to assess their own attitudes regarding their readiness for sexual activity, as well as their understanding of the potential consequences of engaging in sex, like risks for stds, pregnancy and social stigmata.
I love giving them my “It’s your Choice” talk, encouraging them on the option of abstinence, or waiting on sex. I want them to understand that the decision to engage in sex, is just one of the many decisions they’ll have to make for themselves, and that making a ‘good decision’, means understanding the risks of the behavior.
Real Alternatives is the non-profit, charitable organization that administers the Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services for the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana, and offers this advice to teens:
“Contrary to what you might think, many teens and young people are deciding NOT to have sex.
- Not everybody is doing it. The proportion of students who report ever having had sexual intercourse declined significantly from 1991 (54%) to 2001 (46%) and has remained stable from 2001 to 2005. 1
In 2007, less than 48 percent of high school students reported ever having engaged in sexual intercourse, compared to 1991 when over 54 percent of students were no longer virgins. The same study also shows that African American students saw a decrease in sexual intercourse from 82 percent in 1991 to 66 percent in 2007 and white students saw a decrease from 50 percent to 44 percent.2
- Most teens who have had sex wish they had waited. Of those that have had sex, more than one-half of teen boys (55 percent) and the overwhelming majority of teen girls (72 percent) said they wish they had waited longer to have sex. 3
Teens decide not to have sex for a variety of reasons. In one survey of teen girls, "values and morals" was the most common reason given. Others want to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Whatever the reason, you have the right to make this decision for yourself. And, even if you have had sex already, it is not too late to choose not to have sex from now on.”
As difficult as the ‘sex talk’ may be, engage your teen, by asking them their attitudes regarding sexual activity…then listen, advise, and repeat ;)
Suzanne Hall, MD, Ob/Gyn (@drsuzyyhall)
Eastside Gynecology Obstetrics, PC
Office located in Roseville, Grosse Pointe, Macomb, and Rochester, MI