I bet you hated the awkward sex talk. It was probably the most awkward 10 minutes of your life. Worse than sitting there having your health teacher explained periods to your sex ed class and feeling like all of the boys in the class staring at you like you were a hormonal freak of nature. Worse than your teacher making inappropriate jokes about the bananas you were putting condoms on ("In every man's dreams— am I right?"). The most awkward of all of the awkwards was when the sex talk happened at home. Because your parents talking about sex means somehow acknowledging that your parents had/have sex, and that's something nobody wants.
But your parents probably decided to explain the birds and the bees at some point (although I don't remember mine ever doing it, so if yours didn't, we're in the same boat). And despite the awkwardness, research shows that the sex talk is actually effective when it comes to safe sex— it decreases risky behavior.
According to The Daily Dot, a new JAMA study looks at 30 years of data from 52 studies, totally over 25,000 adolescents and found that "authors' analysis found a significant positive association between sexual communication and practicing safe sex among youth. The 'strength of this association was moderated by sex of both the parent and adolescent, with stronger effects for girls than boys and for communication with mothers versus fathers.'".
But no matter your gender, the talk helps. And, as the authors explain teens make up 1/4 of the sexually active population yet get 1/2 of the STIs, we need all the help we can get when it comes to safe sex in adolescents.
So what are some other things that promote safe sex and condom use?
You can't use it unless you know about it. While condoms may seem a basic part of sexual education (and life) for a lot of us, we're lucky. The World Health Organization has stressed the importance of awareness as an effective method to increase condom use.
2. Proper Education
Although getting the parental talk is helpful, a comprehensive and thorough sexual education in the classroom is so important. I was lucky to have a public school sex education that didn't discourage sex or promote abstinence as the only choice. Planned Parenthood explains how abstinence-only agendas have historically damaged condom use.
Just as the World Health Organization says availability of condoms is vital to them being used in Africa, the same principle applies to everyone. I knew exactly where free condoms where available in college (hint: they're everywhere). And not just from health centers, most living areas will have them have them accessible somewhere 24-7, so you can't blame the drug store not being open on not being safe. For those of us no longer in college, we have to keep them on hand and charge of our sexual health.
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