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Know The Facts First!

Talk about It

Talking about sex can seem awkward, or embarrassing, or just hard. Talking about STDs can be frightening. You can talk to your parents or other trusted adults about sex and STDs so they can make sure you have all the information you need. But it's also important to talk about these things with your partner, because when you're in the heat of the moment, the last thing you are thinking about is setting some ground rules. Communicating is what it's all about. If you are ready to have sex with someone, then it's important to be able to talk to him or her about the things that matter to you. So here are some helpful hints to help you talk to each other:

Be ready. Know what you want before you start talking to your partner. Take some time to think about whether you're ready for sex, what you want in life, and whether being sexually active fits into those goals. See a list of questions you can ask yourself. Also, remember that just because you've had sex doesn't mean that you have to keep having sex. That goes for your current partner or with partners in the future – there's no rule that says once you do something, you have to do it again.

Be honest. Once you have considered what you want, think about the risks and benefits of sex. It's important to bring up protection with your partner. It can seem like a difficult conversation, but it's one that you need to have because it's about your health. And at the end of the day, you will both be more comfortable if you can decide together on how to protect yourselves:

  • You could talk about wanting to protect both your health and your partner's health, given that about 1 in 4 teens are infected at some point with an STD, many of which don't have symptoms.
  • Bring up something you saw on TV or in the news that was familiar to you. It can even be a character or scenario in a TV show. Like if you're worried about getting pregnant, talk about "Teen Mom," and ask what he would do if you got pregnant? It's a great way of letting him know how you feel.

Once you've started the conversation, you can make it personal. Try not to ask "yes" or "no" questions. The more you can get your partner talking, the more confident you'll feel and the more you'll learn from each other.

Talking to Your Partner

Your Relationship:

  • What does sex mean to each of you? For your relationship?
  • Do you feel ready?
  • What are you looking for/expecting out of sex?

STDs:

  • What do you know about STDs?
  • Have you ever been tested for an STD? What STDs were you tested for, and what were the results?
  • Have you ever had a partner tell you that he/she had an STD?

Safe Sex:

  • Which methods do you think we should use to protect against STDs and pregnancy?
  • Have you ever used a condom before?
  • Do you know how to put on a condom?

Talking to a Trusted Adult

Don't be afraid to talk to your parents or someone you trust (like a doctor, teacher, or relative) and can look to for advice. They will want you to be safe and can help answer some of your questions. If you're nervous about it, here are some tips to help:

  • Talking to an adult about sex can be nerve-wracking, but remember they're probably nervous too!
  • Decide what you want out of the conversation. Do you want advice? Basic sexual health information? Do you want them to take you to get birth control? Knowing what you want out of the conversation will help you decide what questions to ask. It also might be helpful to write down your questions.
  • Start the conversation at a good time. If you're talking to a parent, wait for when they're relaxed and not doing anything important, like when you're washing dishes after dinner.
  • To ease into the discussion, try mentioning something you may have heard in class, on a TV show, or in a book as a starting point.
  • Be as clear and direct as you can. This means being honest about the reason you want to talk about sex.
  • Listen and respect what you hear. Try to understand their point of view, and try not to argue. Their advice is meant to help you.

Sexual Health for Guys

Even though this site is focused on girls' health, guys face the same kinds of questions, worries, and pressures about sex and STDs that girls do. But sometimes the answers to those questions are different. Boys also need accurate information about their bodies, safe sex, and normal challenges that teens encounter every day.

For more information about contraception, sexual health, and healthy relationships, visit Young Men's Health. Share it with your boyfriend or guy friend if they have questions about sexual health.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens

For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) teens, it's often hard to find information or support, especially for teens who are just beginning to question their feelings. Sexual orientation refers to someone's physical or romantic attractions with other people, and gender identity refers to someone's personal sense of whether they are male, female, or transgender. LGBTQ teens often face challenges and have questions, but it's important to know you are not alone. There are groups and organizations all across the country that provide information and help voice the concerns of LGBTQ youth.

If you want to explore this topic further, visit CDC's LGBT Health page for great information about LGBTQ issues. And check out It Gets Better, a project to inspire hope in young people who are finding it difficult to deal with LGBTQ issues.