Author Lydia Shields
This is a tough topic for many parents to discuss with their teens as it can be an uncomfortable and intricate topic with many options, and some parents feel that it may open the door to promiscuity. However, it is extremely important to create a comfortable space for your child to talk to you about birth control and sexually transmitted infection prevention methods.
Starting conversations early in your child’s life about sexual health promotes open communication. Experts recommend beginning the conversations about birth control around the ages of 13-15 years. The best practice is to be honest, and supportive during these conversations. Help your teen understand their options for contraceptive methods. Talking about these topics is an excellent way to encourage your child to take control of their health and body while further strengthening the relationship held between parent and child.
Educate your child on menstruation
Getting that first period is terrifying, so you can be there to guide your child through these confusing and new changes. Helping your child understand this change is a great way to build trust and create and open communication in your relationship. Educate your child on menstruation, the options for menstruation care, and how to use the methods available. Both mothers and fathers are encouraged to build a strong relationship that allows for a comfortable and open setting to discuss sexual health topics.
Have a menstruation kit ready
Be prepared by having a menstruation care package ready for the day your daughter gets her first period. It should consist of an assortment of tampons, pads, cups, and any other menstruation necessities you know of. Allow your child to make the decision on what they are most comfortable using and be supportive. This gesture will show your child that you are safe to discuss sexual health topics with, and it can open the door for other sexual health topics as your child matures.
What to do if your child already has their period
It is never too late to build up that relationship and make it okay to talk about sexual health. If your child has their period already and you haven’t had the chance to discuss sexual health, find out the right moment to establish communication. This moment could be when you give your child menstruation supplies or on a one-on-one outing with them in a private setting. You can lead with the understanding that they are maturing into adulthood, a time to take control over their body and their sexual and reproductive health. Talk about their period and what is happening with their body, make sure they know the product options for menstruation and how to use them, and help them feel comfortable with these changes. Then, you will begin to create open communication about sexual and reproductive health between you and your child.
Shortly after your daughter gets her period, Introduce the idea of contraception. Again, it doesn’t have to be about sex. You could introduce it to your child as a way to manage menstruation cramps, flow, and cycle. If you are comfortable, another good ice breaker is to ask about school friends and try to bring up relationships and dating casually. This can allow the topic to flow more naturally towards contraceptive methods.
The different contraceptive methods you should cover include the Birth Control Pill, Intravaginal Ring, Birth Control Shot, Condom, Contraceptive Patch, and the Intrauterine Device (see figure below).
For more information on the various contraceptive methods available visit the CDC website by clicking on the link provided. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/index.htm
It is crucial to provide information to your child. For the answers to questions you don’t know, you can look them up and learn together.
Please remember to inform your child about sexually transmitted infections and how they can protect themself. The most effective way to prevent STIs is abstinence, and for a protective method during sex, condoms are an effective option. Inform your child that condoms should always be worn during sexual encounters, even when using a different contraceptive method.