When it comes to having “the talk,” many teens admit they’re not communicating with their parents or their doctors about sex, new research reveals.
“Teens and young adults account for more STIs [sexually transmitted infections] than all other ages combined,” said study co-author Dr. Kari Schneider, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.
“Pediatricians and parents play a vital role in discussing STIs and safer sex practices with adolescents,” she added in a news release from the Pediatric Academic Societies.
For the new study, researchers asked close to 600 teens, aged 13 to 17, how often they talked to their parents about sex.
The teens were also asked if they’d seen a doctor in the past year, if they had talked to a doctor about sex, and if they had been screened for a sexually transmitted disease.
In addition, the researchers polled 516 parents of teens, asking them how often they talked about sex with their children and if they were aware of discussions their child had with a doctor about sex.
The poll showed that 45 percent of the teens were not routinely asked about sex by their doctor. And sexually transmitted disease screening was offered to only 13 percent of them.
Interestingly, just 39 percent of the teens said they talked to their parents about sex, while 90 percent of the parents reported having such a discussion with their teens.
The researchers noted that teen girls were asked about sex more often than boys. And mothers were more likely to talk about sex with their children.
Race also played a role. White parents were more likely to discuss sex with their teenage children, but white teens were less likely to be offered screening for sexually transmitted diseases, the poll found.
According to the report, older teens were more likely to have discussions about sex and be offered screening.
The researchers pointed out that nearly half of the parents polled were aware of discussions about sex between their teen and a doctor, but 25 percent of the parents in the study didn’t think these conversations should take place.
These findings were to be presented on Sunday at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, in Toronto. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary because it hasn’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about teen sexual health.