The Dominion Post

Time for the sex talk

- Siouxsie Wiles @Siouxsiew

Very soon I’ll be the parent of a teenager. Wish me luck! We had the sex talk years ago, thanks to award-winning American photograph­er Ken Heyman’s picture of a women on all fours in the throes of labour. My daughter inadverten­tly came across the picture while leafing through his book, The World’s Family.

Captured from behind, it’s a pretty gruesome sight if you aren’t familiar with the concept of childbirth. My little girl came rushing to me, dragging the massive book, yelling and horrified, ‘‘Mummy, do babies come out of your bum?’’

We had the fairly mechanical version of the sex talk. Penises, vaginas, eggs, sperm – that sort of thing. A few years later I became an egg donor, so we had a refresher talk, this time covering egg and sperm donation, IVF, and how same-sex couples have babies.

But when should we talk about the really important stuff? Thanks to the Netflix show Riverdale my daughter has learned about Rohypnol and date-rape. But what about masturbati­on, orgasms, porn, contracept­ion, and sexually transmitte­d infections?

If you’re squirming at the thought of talking all that over with your teen, a new study suggests it really is for the best.

Researcher­s from the United States looked at the data from more than 30 clinical trials of ‘‘parent-based sexual health interventi­ons’’ involving nearly 13,000 teens.

Those kids whose parents talked to them about sex didn’t have sex any earlier or later than their peers, but they made safer choices, like using condoms.

It’s also a good strategy to point our kids to engaging resources, like Canadian Eva Bloom and her web series What’s My Body Doing?

Bloom has been studying sexting for her Masters degree and produces short, evidenceba­sed videos on sex and sexuality from a feminist, body-positive, and LGBTQI+ perspectiv­e.

I love that Bloom covers all the stuff we tend to leave out of the sex-talk, like masturbati­on and using sex toys. Closer to home we have The Price of Sex on TVNZ On Demand, which went live last week.

Either way, the research is clear – make sure the lines of communicat­ion are open and let your teen know you are happy to answer their questions, whatever they might be.

If you’re squirming at the thought of talking all that over with your teen, a new study suggests it really is for the best.

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