When is the right time to start ‘the talk’ with teens about sex-related issues…how to say No -or- how to protect themselves against pregnancy and STDs if they are, or considering, sexual activity? Some studies do suggest that parents may underestimate their teen’s sexually activity. According to the CDC, among U.S. high school students surveyed in 2011, 47.4% have already had sexual intercourse.
As the health providers in our practice, we want to provide health guidance regarding responsible sexual behaviors, for both teens who are and who are not sexually active. We’ve developed a new campaign in our office to encourage health habits for teens, called “i-ProMiss Health.” Our teen patients will receive a personal wallet-sized card –a ‘personal health promise contract’-to sign (and keep with them) after considering their own personal decisions regarding the health related issues of abstinence, condom use, healthy eating and exercise. The personal wallet card will be accompanied by an “i-ProMiss Health” rubber band bracelet as a personal reminder token.
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.