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.
As a practicing Ob/Gyn providing healthcare for female patients, I often get this question from mothers regarding their tween/teenage daughters. Though the guidelines for requiring the first Pap smear have changed, to start at age 21, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends the first 'reproductive health visit' at ages 13-15. This initial visit may not require a pelvic exam, unless your daughter is having menstrual difficulties (pelvic pain, menstrual cramping, abnormal/heavy periods) or is sexually active. Contraceptive options, STD prevention, and the HPV vaccine may be discussed at this visit.