Whether you are a parent, grandparent, or guardian, this part of the website has been designed with you in mind. Each area will help you as a parent to talk with your teen and to come up with ways to handle a multitude of situations. We invite you to explore the entire Relationship Matters website!
Frequently Asked Questions
about teenage sexuality
Got a question that you don't see answered below? Now you can submit a question. We'll be sure to answer . . . and your question may even get added to this list! Click here to submit a question >>
Q: What are STIs and STDs?
A: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's) are infections which can be passed from person to person through sexual contact.
Q: What are the most common STI's?
A: HPV (human papilloma virus) is the most common viral STD while chlaymdia is the most common bacterial STD. HPV is perhaps the leading STD (the numbers change every day!) and is the cause of over 99 percent of all cervical cancers.
The best protection against this is not having sex before marriage and lifelong fidelity afterwards.
Q: What is Chlamydia?
Q: You used to hear a lot about Gonorrhea. Is it still around?
A: Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women, and in the urethra (urine canal) in women and men.
In 2005, 339,593 cases of gonorrhea were reported in the United States. The highest reported rates of infection are among sexually active teenagers, young adults, and African Americans. So, in the case of gonorrhea, saving sex for one partner, who has saved sex for you, remains the best medicine.
Q: How about Syphilis?
A: Syphilis, a genital ulcerative disease, causes significant complications if untreated and facilitates the transmission of HIV.
Those who are infected often remain unaware of its presence until it has reached the later stages of development.That's a problem, because Syphilis can cause severe brain, heart, and blood vessel damage if not diagnosed and treated early.
In 2005, syphilis cases reported to CDC increased to 8,724 from 7,980 in 2004. That was an increase of 9.3%. The best protection against this syphillis is to be in a committed relationship with one life-long partner.
Q: What is HPV and how common is it?
A: HPV is short for human papilloma virus. This sexually transmitted disease has infected more people than any other STD.
HPV causes more than 99 percent of all cervical precancerous and cancerous growths. A recent study found that 60 percent of sexually active college students were infected with HPV. That is sixty percent!
HPV rates are highest among 14-19 year olds and 20-29 year olds.
Few people know that condoms provide limited protection against the spread of it. The best way to treat STDs is to never get them in the first place.
Q: How common is Hepatitis?
A: This STD is 10 times more infectious than HIV.
It is also one of the most common causes of liver cancer in the U.S. At least 100,000 people in the U.S. are infected with this virus every year.
The problem with Hepatitis is that you can be infected and not know it for years. Many carriers unknowingly infect their sex partners, and there is no known cure for it.
Q: As a parent, I'm uncomfortable about having "the talk about sex"
A: "The Talk" is not so much a single event, but a process.
Q: How do I convince my child that not everyone is having sex?
A: Peter Marshall once said, "Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for; because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything."
To protect our kids, we have to use a lot of negatives like: don't talk to strangers, don't ride with anyone that's been drinking, d't do drugs. We need to help our kids see that saying "no" to one thing means saying "yes" to something better.
Saying no to premarital sex means saying yes to a brighter future. It's saying yes to self-respect, integrity and character. Have you talked with your kids about the value of saving sex for one partner? Don't answer until you can say "yes" to that one.
Q: I don't want my teen to have sex now, but if he is going to do it anyway, shouldn't I buy the condoms myself?
A: In an effort to help your teen, you would be sending a mixed message, "Don't have sex, but if you do, use a condom." Instead of reinforcing the how's and why's of waiting, you are expecting him to be sexually active.
Q: Where do most teens learn about sex?
A: According to a recent poll in Time Magazine, the poll found that only 3 percent of teens learn about sex from school. How about parents? Only about 7 percent learned from mom and dad. Television came in second with 29 percent, while friends topped the list at 45 percent. The poll claims that 93 percent of children are learning about sex from someone other than their parents' the people who care the most about them. The good news is you don't have to let your kid be a statistic. Parents have the right and responsibility to teach their kids about sex and the benefits of not having sex until marriage. You can help them make smart, safe choices for a brighter future. Many educators and medical professionals falsely conclude that kids will be sexually active regardless of their efforts, and parents are guilty of saying too little too late to have a meaningful impact. But you know what? Studies show that kids do want to learn about sex from their parents. They want loving support to help them make healthy choices. So talk to your kids about the risk of STDs.
Q: Aren't condoms safe?
A: According to the CDC, to be effective, condoms must be used every time you have sex "no exceptions" and in compliance with a seven step procedure (really!)
Studies show that even adults who know their partner is HIV positive don't use condoms consistently and correctly.
A condom won't protect your mind or your heart, but not having sex will.
Q: I'm shocked by the questions my teen is asking about sex. Where do they hear some of this stuff?
A: Most parents are shocked by the questions kids ask about sex. The locker room isn't the only place your kids are hearing about sex. They're hearing about it in a place you take them yourself, and I'm not talking about some movie with mature content. I'm talking about the checkout stand at your local grocery store. A recent issue of Cosmopolitan, which was displayed where you pay for your food, featured articles like "Who will be your summer lover?" and "How to tell if he's good in bed from across the room." That was on the cover- you didn't even have to pick up the magazine to get the message. Is it any wonder kids are confused?
Q: Is AIDS still a problem?
A: In 1981, there were only a few hundred cases in the U.S. Today, it's a leading cause of death for 25-44 year old Americans. More than 500,000 Americans have died of AIDS. To put that is perspective, we lost about 400,000 Americans in World War II; the end of our war against AIDS is nowhere in sight. AIDS is fatal, there is no known cure, and it's rapidly spreading among women and minorities.
Q: As a parent, what role do I really have in educating my child?
A: Theodore Roosevelt once said, "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." His words are particularly significant when it comes to sexual behavior. Schools teach your child to read and write, and sometimes they also teach that condoms can make sex safe. But who's talking to them about whether or not they should have sex? Who's going to tell them that studies find condoms provide little to no protection against HPV? This STD alone infects more than 2.5 million people every year. You love them the most, so you should be the one who teaches them self-control, respect, and patience.