Let's Talk About Safe Sex

By: RSC Editorial Team

August 4, 2022

How to Talk About STDs to Young Kids, Teens, and Adults

Awareness is a crucial factor in preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Although most US teenagers receive sex education in school, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that around 50% of STDs are among younger people between the ages of 15 and 24.

The high prevalence of infections may warrant a shift in how we communicate about STDs to children and young adults. 

Learning how to talk about STDs can help you mitigate your child's risk of infection and protect their health long-term. In this article, we'll discuss how to have this vital conversation with your children and partner.

How to Talk to Your Child About STDs

When you talk to your child about STDs, the conversation should fit your child's level of development and understanding of what a sexual relationship is. Most children are ready for an STD education by age 10, but it's never too late to start the conversation.

An STD conversation with your child should take place in a safe space where your child feels comfortable asking questions. 

The goal of an intimate conversation about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is to help your child understand: 

  • What sex involves
  • What STDs are
  • How STDs spread

One long and difficult conversation about STDs might not be effective. Instead, educate your child about this topic on an ongoing basis.

Talk to your child about STDs whenever they ask direct questions about sex. You can also bring up the subject when your child receives the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. 

When deciding how to talk about STDs with your child, important topics to cover include:

  • An STD is a potentially severe health issue that can significantly affect someone's quality of life.
  • An STD can spread through genital, mouth, bodily fluid, or skin contact. 
  • A person can protect themselves from an STI by staying in a monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.
  • Knowing the health status of a sexual partner and using condoms reduces the risk of infection.
  • Regular same-day STD testing is critical and allows for early treatment of an STD.

When discussing STDs with your children, encourage them to ask questions. You should also let them know that caring for their sexual health is a natural part of life.

Talking to Teens

Statistically, teens have a relatively high risk of STIs due to an increase in sexual activity. According to the CDC, various other risk factors affect young people, including:

  • Biologically, young women are more susceptible to STDs than other demographic groups.
  • Younger people are more apprehensive about undergoing a rapid STD test.
  • Teens are uncomfortable discussing their sexual health with their parents or health professionals.
  • Some young people have multiple sexual partners.

If your teenage child is comfortable talking openly about topics relating to sexual health, they will be more likely to tell you about their STI status, making early treatment possible. 

Talking with your teen about STDs can also reduce their risk of infection. Ideally, you should provide your child with an STD education from age 10. However, it is never too late to have this conversation, and you can still help your teen make good decisions. 

How to Talk to Your Daughter About STDs 

Most children have a vague understanding of STDs by the time they reach their early teens. However, when sexual contact is becoming a possible reality, your teen should know what they can do to protect themselves against infection. 

These precautionary steps include:

  • Saying no to sexual activity
  • Asking a sexual partner to use a condom
  • Refraining from engaging in sexual contact with multiple partners
  • Knowing a sexual partner's STI status

As a parent, you might be uncomfortable starting a conversation about STDs. However, there are several ways to make this discussion easier for you and your daughter:

  • Remember that knowing how to talk about STDs is critical to help protect your teen.
  • Tell your teen that these conversations are necessary to help protect their health.
  • Have several casual conversations about STDs instead of one formal talk.
  • Do research to ensure that you provide your child with medically correct information.

Talking to Adults

Talking about sex with your partner is integral to maintaining a healthy relationship and sex life. If you know your partner's sexual history, you can take steps to protect yourself against an STI. 

Having an honest conversation about STDs can be challenging. However, this discussion between adults is crucial to protect your health. If you have an STD, you need to tell your partner before engaging in sexual contact. 

Because people with STDs don't always show symptoms, you and your partner should undergo testing before intimacy. At Rapid STD Testing, we offer a 10-panel STD test that can detect common STDs, including Chlamydia, Hepatitis B and C, HIV, and Herpes. 

If one of you tests positive for an STD, treatment is available, reduces the risk of health complications, and is less intimidating than you might think. You also need to discuss how the infection affects your relationship and the steps you need to take to prevent transmission. 

Before talking with your partner about STDs, understand the objective of the discussion. For example, you might want to undergo testing, ask your partner about their STI status, or share information about your sexual history. 

Once you know why you want to have the conversation, gather all the clinical information you and your partner need to make decisions. Then, think carefully about everything you want to say.

When planning what you'll say to your partner, focus on how testing helps you maintain sexual health, and avoid any judgemental or hurtful language about “staying clean.”

Finding an appropriate time and setting for your conversation is essential. Don't talk about STDs when you are about to be intimate or during an argument. You should also have complete privacy. 

After starting the discussion, give your partner enough time to respond, and listen carefully to what they say. In some cases, a negative response might be due to a lack of knowledge of STDs. Calmly present your case and help your partner understand why you want to discuss a specific topic or take precautionary action.

Clear communication is critical, especially when staying with someone who gave you an STD. The decision to remain in a relationship with someone who gave you an STD is personal. By having in-depth conversations about STDs, you can determine how your partner contracted the infection and if they knew about the STD while you had sexual contact. 

In many cases, the transmission of an STD within a relationship is not due to the infected partner's recklessness or infidelity. Listen to your partner and encourage them to respond honestly to your questions so that you can make an informed decision about your relationship. 

Keep Yourself and Your Loved Ones Safe

Knowing how to talk about STDs to young kids, teenagers, and adult partners can help protect your loved ones and yourself from infection.

Seeking early treatment for an STD can prevent health complications and improve your quality of life. At Rapid STD Testing, we can provide rapid screenings and confidential results within three business days.

Visit a Rapid STD Testing clinic near you and protect your sexual well-being.


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By: RSC Editorial Team
August 4, 2022

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