How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex

How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex

As a sex educator and researcher, one of the more common questions I get asked is when and how to talk to your kids about sex. Case in point: a reader of the blog recently asked, “At what age should parents talk about sex to their children—or at what age do children need to know about sex?”

So when should you start? And what the heck do parents need to know about navigating this discussion? Here’s a brief guide to help you get started.

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A Safe-Sex Guide For LGBTQIA Persons

A Safe-Sex Guide For LGBTQIA Persons

Many sex education programs in the United States fail to meet the needs of sexual and gender minority students. This is especially true for programs that have an abstinence-only focus. Research has found that LGBTQIA students who take such courses report that they not only reinforce negative stereotypes, but they are also seriously lacking when it comes to providing useful and relevant information and resources [1]. 

We need comprehensive and inclusive sex education—and there are a lot of wonderful people in my field who are working to change the way that we approach sex ed around the world; unfortunately, however, there’s a lot of political resistance and progress is slow. The good news, though, is that some sex educators have begun to put together valuable educational resources for LGBTQIA students that are readily available to anyone with an internet connection. 

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Taking Antibiotics After Unprotected Sex May Reduce STI Risk

Taking Antibiotics After Unprotected Sex May Reduce STI Risk

New research finds that the antibiotic doxycycline reduces the odds of contracting some bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) if taken within 72 hours of condomless sex.

The findings, presented earlier this year at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, came from a study of 232 HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM). Half of the men were given a prescription for the drug and instructed to take two pills (100 mg) within three days any time they had sex without condoms. The remaining men did not receive the antibiotic regimen; however, everyone was given condoms and counseling about safer sex. All participants were tested regularly for STIs for several months afterward.

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Are Sex Researchers More Sexually Active Than Everyone Else?

Are Sex Researchers More Sexually Active Than Everyone Else?

When you study sex for a living, people have a tendency to think that you really love sex—and that you must be having it all the time, too! In other words, people often assume that you’re doing “mesearch” instead of research.

But is that really the case? Are sex researchers any more sexually active than the rest of the population? Let's take a look at the data.

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Video: Why Parents Should Talk To Their Kids About Sex

Video: Why Parents Should Talk To Their Kids About Sex

A lot of parents avoid talking to their kids about sex because they are afraid the experience will be awkward, embarrassing, or uncomfortable. However, parents aren't doing their kids any favors by taking this topic of conversation off the table. As Dr. Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician and professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, explains in the video below, the research is pretty clear when it comes to parent-child communication about "the birds and the bees": kids who are able to talk to their parents about sex are more likely to practice safe sex. Check out the video below to learn more about the research on this topic.

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Why So Many College Students Have Risky Sex on Spring Break

Why So Many College Students Have Risky Sex on Spring Break

My university, like many schools around the country, is on spring break this week. A lot of students are using this opportunity to not just take a breather from their studies, but also to travel. As I’m sure you’re well aware, spring break trips have a reputation for getting a little wild and crazy—I mean, just look at how they’re depicted in Hollywood films.

But why is that exactly? What accounts for why so many college students partake in risky behaviors—especially risky sexual behaviors—at this time of year? Let’s take a look at a recent study published in the journal Prevention Science that attempted to address this question.

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10 Things You Should Know About the Sex Lives of American Teenagers

10 Things You Should Know About the Sex Lives of American Teenagers

Popular media articles on adolescent sexuality usually paint a portrait of the modern American teenager as hypersexual. Among other things, these articles give the impression that teens are having sex at younger and younger ages, they’re constantly hooking up and sexting, and they’re engaging in a lot of risky sexual behavior, thanks to a diet of highly sexual movies and TV shows. By contrast, scientific research on the sex lives of adolescents suggests a very different set of conclusions. Here are 10 things you should know about the sex lives of American teenagers, according to science.

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Straight Men Say They’re Less Likely to Use Condoms with Attractive Women

Straight Men Say They’re Less Likely to Use Condoms with Attractive Women

A heterosexual man’s interest in using condoms depends upon a lot of things, including his overall attitudes toward condoms, his perceived ability to use them effectively, and whether or not his partner is on the pill or using another form of birth control. Interestingly, another factor that seems to affect men’s willingness to use condoms is the perceived attractiveness of their partners. According to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, the better-looking straight men perceive a female partner to be, the less likely they are to want to use condoms with her.

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Infographic: Why Infidelity is a High Risk Sexual Behavior

Infographic: Why Infidelity is a High Risk Sexual Behavior

Most people think of cheating as a risky behavior--risky in the sense that, if discovered, it could potentially lead to hurt feelings, severe conflict, and maybe even breakup. However, infidelity doesn't just put the health of a relationship at risk. Research has found that it also puts the physical health of everyone involved at risk because, when people cheat, they don't appear to be particularly likely to practice safe sex. Check out the infographic below for a look at the data.

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Five Scientific Facts You Should Know About Porn

Five Scientific Facts You Should Know About Porn

There’s a war on porn taking place right now. 

A growing chorus has emerged claiming that porn is addictive, that it’s causing misogyny and sexual violence, that it’s leading people to have riskier sex, that it’s creating an epidemic of erectile dysfunction, and that it’s destroying our relationships. These are just some of the many reasons the US state of Utah recently went as far as to formally declare porn to be a “public health crisis.”

Is porn really such a destructive force, though? It’s difficult to come to that conclusion when you actually look at what the research says. Here are five things scientists have found by studying the effects of pornography that challenge the notion that porn is responsible for so many problems.

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Teen Pregnancies Are Falling, But No Thanks To Abstinence-Only Sex Education

Teen Pregnancies Are Falling, But No Thanks To Abstinence-Only Sex Education

According to a new report from the CDC, the number of teenagers giving birth is at its lowest point in the last 15 years. In fact, between 1991 and 2014, there was a whopping 61 percent drop in births among U.S. women aged 15-19!

This decline occurred among women of all racial backgrounds, although it was even more pronounced for racial minorities than it was for White women.

In light of this trend, many people are wondering why—who or what should be credited with decreasing the teen pregnancy and birth rates so much?

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Funding for Abstinence-Only Sex Ed May be Eliminated From the Federal Budget

Funding for Abstinence-Only Sex Ed May be Eliminated From the Federal Budget

In President Obama’s proposed budget for 2017, he has eliminated all funding for abstinence-only sex education in the nation’s public schools. Whether this will ultimately come to pass is far from certain, though, because any budget must be negotiated with and approved by Congress before it can go into effect. However, from a scientific perspective, Obama’s proposal is definitely a step in the right direction.

The United States government has reportedly spent more than $1.5 billion on abstinence-only sex education over the past quarter-century, and we have little to show for it. Study after study published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals has revealed that this type of sex education is woefully ineffective and, instead, may actually be counterproductive.

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Sex Question Friday: Should I Be Using Condoms During Oral Sex?

Sex Question Friday: Should I Be Using Condoms During Oral Sex?

A reader submitted the following question:

“Is it necessary to use condoms/dental dams for oral sex? What if it is not used? Does that guarantee transmission of sexually transmitted infections?”

Thanks for this great question! Oral sex has become a very common sexual activity in the Western world. For instance, most U.S. adults under age 50 say that they have given and/or received oral sex in the past year in the form of fellatio or cunnilingus, a number that has increased significantly during the past few decades.

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Sex Question Friday: What's The Secret To Making Friends With Benefits Work?

Sex Question Friday: What's The Secret To Making Friends With Benefits Work?

A reader submitted the following question:

"What's the secret to making a friends with benefits situation work? How do you avoid things getting complicated?"

There's no doubt about it--friends with benefits (FWBs) sometimes turn into complicated situations, often because one person ends up wanting more from the relationship than the other. As a result, it is perhaps not surprising that the development of unreciprocated feelings is one of the most commonly cited concerns people have about starting FWB relationships [1]. So what can you do to reduce the odds that this will happen? A growing body of research suggests that the key to a successful FWB is up-front communication.

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‘Tis The Season For… Risky Sex?

‘Tis The Season For… Risky Sex?

Research has found that one of the biggest seasonal peaks in sexual activity occurs around the winter holidays. This makes sense because this time of year offers more opportunities for sex than usual. Part of the reason for this is because many people end up taking extended vacations—but another reason is because people attend a lot of holiday parties that seem to get them in the mood for more than just eggnog. For instance, a recent national U.S. survey by Trojan Condoms and Harris Interactive revealed that 24% of Americans reported hooking-up as a result of an office holiday party at least once before. However, it is important to recognize that while people may be having more sex over the winter holidays, they aren’t necessarily practicing safer sex.

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The Importance Of Condom Marketing Strategies (VIDEO)

The Importance Of Condom Marketing Strategies (VIDEO)

In countries ravaged by HIV where access to contraceptives and barriers is limited, it is not uncommon for donor agencies from around the world to come in and flood the market with free or low-cost condoms. However, it turns out that simply making these condoms available is no guarantee that people will actually use them; rather, the condoms also need to be marketed effectively to the people who will actually be using them. This means that donor agencies can't simply assume that the same marketing strategies that work in their home country will work elsewhere. In the brief video below, Amy Lockwood highlights the importance of condom-marketing strategies by looking at the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Sex Question Friday: How Safe Is "Safe Sex?"

Sex Question Friday: How Safe Is "Safe Sex?"

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people's questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week's question comes from a female reader who wanted to know the following:

"Everyone talks about practicing safe sex and I do, but how safe am I when I'm using condoms and is there anything else I should be doing?"

Thanks for this great question! Condoms can indeed be very effective at preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when used properly; however, studies suggest that people overestimate how effective condoms are in practice [1]. This means that when you're practicing "safe sex," you may not be quite as safe as you think.

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All I Want For Christmas Is Safe Sex

All I Want For Christmas Is Safe Sex

So this is Christmas, and what have you done? In all likelihood, you’ve probably had some sex. Research has found that there are seasonal peaks in sexual activity, with one of the biggest spikes occurring right around the Christmas holiday [1]. In a lot of ways, this makes sense. Most people are off work for a couple of days and college students are out of school for a couple of weeks. Without the stress and distraction of deadlines and homework, people have more time and energy to "get it on." However, it turns out that while people are having lots of holiday sex, it appears that they aren’t having very safe sex, which may result in some unexpected outcomes.

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Why “Safe Sex” Isn’t Quite As Safe As You Think

Why “Safe Sex” Isn’t Quite As Safe As You Think

Although “safe sex” means different things to different people, the most common thing people associate with this term is the male condom. We have been told time and again by sexual health educators and condom manufacturers alike that condoms can be highly effective at preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—and there is no disputing that. However, research has found that people tend to overestimate how effective condoms are in practice [1] and for that reason, it is important to step back and look at what condoms do and don’t do, and reconsider our usage of the term “safe sex.”

 

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Things Guys Say To Avoid Using Condoms

Things Guys Say To Avoid Using Condoms

Decades of research in sexual health has revealed that people do not practice safe-sex consistently. Of course, part of the reason for this is because condoms are not always available when people want to have sex. Other contributing factors include negative attitudes toward condoms and an inability to find condoms that fit well. However, one of the more disturbing reasons people sometimes forego protection is because they are convinced by their sexual partners that they should not use condoms. Indeed, one study of college students found that 49% of the women surveyed reported that a sexual partner had previously persuaded them to not use condoms on at least one occasion [1]. Building upon this finding, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research reveals some of the more common persuasion tactics men employ in order to resist condom use with their female partners [2].

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