There’s probably nothing parents and teens look forward to least than the dreaded “sex talk.” It’s embarrassing and cringe-worthy for everyone involved, but it really is important to be open and truthful about sex with your children. This month the FPA is hosting Sexual Health Week, raising awareness across the UK about sexually transmitted diseases. They might have a special lesson in school but you can always take this opportunity to sit down with your children and talk about sex.
Sexual Health Week 2016
This year Sexual Health Week runs from 12th-18th September, and you can get involved by signing up on the FPA website. Each year they choose a different theme, and 2016’s main topic is STIs. Diagnoses in all age groups have increased in recent years, so it’s important to educate about the importance of safe sex and how to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
Cases of STIs are at a higher level in the UK than most other western European countries. This means that we need to encourage more testing and increase education and awareness about preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. All children learn about STIs and safe sex in school, but it’s obviously not going far enough. Adults of all ages often don’t know where to go to get tested or to speak about contraception.
Dedicated sexual health clinics are the best places to go for STI testing, which is free. However if you’re not sure where to go, most GPs can carry out tests and treatment, or if they can’t they can point you in the right direction to the nearest sexual health service. If you have had unprotected sex or worried you might have an STI, speak to your doctor.
How to Handle Sex Ed
It can be difficult to know how to approach sex education with your kids. It’s normal to be worried or embarrassed, but it’s important you give your children all the correct information they need. When it comes to STIs, you might have to do some research into the symptoms of common infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and genital herpes. You might want to look up the information together with your children as an interactive activity.
The most important thing you need to tell your children is that they can rely on you to listen and answer any questions they have about sex. They will probably be learning the basics in school and doing their own research, but they will have burning questions that need answering by a trusted adult.