Image of a Teen couple. About half of all STD cases in the United States happen in young people ages 15 to 24. Teens are at a higher risk than adults of getting STDs for a number of reasons. They may not use condoms correctly every time they have sex, or have sexual contact with multiple partners during the same period of time or don’t know they need tests to check for STDs.

Teens whose parents talk with them about sex and how to prevent STDs are not more likely to have sex but they will be more likely to make healthy choices about sex when they're older. Here are five things your teen needs to know about preventing STDs:

1. Abstinence is the best way to prevent an STD - Complete abstinence means not having any kind of sexual contact. This includes vaginal, anal, or oral sex and skin-to-skin sexual contact. Complete abstinence is the only sure way to prevent STDs.

2. Preventing pregnancy doesn’t prevent an STD - Some teens may think that using birth control pills can also prevent the spread of STDs, but sexual contact that doesn’t lead to pregnancy can still spread a sexually transmitted disease.

3. Always use condoms when you’re having sex - Be sure your teen knows how to use a male condom and how to use a female condom, even if you don’t think he or she is sexually active. Offer to help get condoms if your teen doesn’t know where to go.

4. Talk with your partner about STDs before sex - Encourage your teen to talk with her partner about STD prevention before having sex and suggest ways to start the conversation about STDs. Tell them you understand it may not be easy, but it’s important for your teen to speak up. 

5. Talk with your doctor about STD testing - Help your teen develop a trusting relationship with a health care provider to talk honestly about any sexual activity. That way, they can determine which tests your teen may need. 

And here are six bonus tips that can help when talking with your teen about preventing STDs:

  • Think about what you want to say ahead of time.
  • Be honest about how you feel.
  • Try not to give your teen too much information at once.
  • Use examples to start a conversation.
  • Talk while you are doing something together.
  • Get ideas from other parents.

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax