Talking to parents about sex stuff might feel awkward. But it can also be really helpful and bring you closer together. And it gets easier the more you do it.

How do I talk to my parents about sex?

For some people, it’s easy to talk to their parents about sex. Other families may not be very open about these topics. Either way, it’s normal to feel a little embarrassed or anxious about bringing up sex to the adults in your life. You might worry that your parents will be angry, disappointed, or upset if you ask about birth control or STDs. But you may be surprised: most of the time parents are glad you came to them, and that you’re being responsible about protecting your health.

Your parents were your age once, and know what it’s like to be a teenager. They probably already know a lot about sex, birth control, and STDs. Even if your parents don’t have all the answers, they can help you find ways to get the information you need, or find a nurse or doctor for you to talk to.

Read more about talking to your parents about sex.

Your parents can also help you get birth control, STD testing, and other sexual health services like the HPV vaccine. But if you really don’t feel safe talking with your parents about this stuff, you may be able to see a doctor privately (depending on where you live).

Will my parents find out if I get birth control or STD testing?

Most of the time you don’t need a parent’s permission to get birth control or STD testing. Many states have special parental consent laws that protect your right to get sexual health services privately, even if you’re under 18. But laws are different in every state. There are certain places where the doctor’s office can contact your parent or guardian if you’re under 18. You can ask your doctor’s office or local health center about their privacy policies when you make an appointment.  

If you use your parents’ health insurance to pay for your appointment or prescriptions, your family might get a statement in the mail that says what services you had. If you’re using someone else’s health insurance and don’t want them to know about your doctor’s visit, call the insurance company to find out about their privacy policies. The number is usually on the back of your insurance card (or you can ask your nurse or doctor).

You can also call your local Planned Parenthood health center to see if they can give you free or low cost birth control and/or STD testing, without using your parents’ insurance. And some states have special programs that allow teens to get their own private health insurance plan for birth control and STD services. Your local Planned Parenthood can help you with that, too.

Even if you’re worried about talking with your parents about birth control, it’s a good idea to ask for their help (as long as you feel safe). Parents usually just want to make sure you stay healthy and protected. And they may feel better about you getting sexual health services if they’re involved. Get more tips on talking to your parents about sex.

If you don’t feel like you can rely on your parent or guardian, talk with another trusted adult in your life — like an aunt or uncle, older brother or sister, counselor, or school nurse. And you can always call your local Planned Parenthood health center to get honest, private information about STDs and birth control.