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Health & Parenting

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Teen Girls, Parents Talk About Sex

Survey Shows Communication Lines Are Open for Discussion of Sex and Birth Control

WebMD Health News

Dec. 14, 2005 -- Most teenaged girls are talking to their parents about sex and birth control, according to a new survey.

Researchers surveyed more than 1,500 girls under 18 who visited one of 79 different family planning clinics across the U.S. and found more than half had talked to their parents about sexual issues.

Most (60%) of the teens also said that a parent knew about their visit to the family planning clinic; those reports were most commonly seen in girls who felt very connected to their parents.

Researchers say the results show that overall teens using family planning clinics have good relationships with their parents and communicate with them about sex and sexual issues, such as birth control issues.

The extent to which parents should be involved in their children's decisions to have sex or use birth control is a sensitive one.

Researchers say some legislative attempts have been made to require parental involvement for minors seeking family planning services at publicly funded clinics. But other policymakers and advocates contend that confidential access to reproductive health services is essential because some sexually active minors would avoid seeking contraceptive or sexually transmitted disease (STD) services if parental involvement was required.

Let's Talk About Sex

In the study, published in the Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, researchers found 50%-80% of the teenaged girls surveyed had talked to their parents about sexual issues, depending on the topic. Only 7% said they had not talked to their parents at all about sexual issues.

Specifically, the survey showed:

  • 42% of teens had talked with their parents about how to say no to sex
  • 32% talked with their parents about where to get prescription birth control
  • 33% talked with their parents about how to prevent STDs

The study also showed only about one in five (19%) felt that their parents disapproved of their both having sex and using birth control.

Girls under the age of 15 were also more likely than 17-year-olds to have told their parents about visiting a family planning clinic and to report that a parent suggested the clinic.

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