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Talking with your parents about sex can feel scarier than it actually is. With a little planning and practice, you’ll be ready to start the conversation.  

What’s the best way to start a conversation with my parents about sex?

Starting a conversation can be the hardest part. Promise, it gets easier and easier over time. Here are some tips to help you out:

  • Try using a magazine article or TV show to start talking about sex more generally. Then you can work your way up to the stuff that’s more personal to you.  

  • If you feel more comfortable communicating through email, text, or IM, go for it. It doesn’t matter how you talk — just talk.

  • Give your parents a heads-up that you want to talk. Say something like, “Can we have a private talk tonight?” That way you can be sure to have their full attention, and they know to take it seriously.

  • Break the ice with something like, “This feels weird for me to talk about, and it may be for you, too, but I want to ask about …” Acknowledging the awkwardness can actually help make it go away.

  • Think of questions you want to ask, and maybe even write them down first. You could ask them about what their parents taught them about sex, how to know when you’re in love, how to know when to have sex, and how to protect yourself from pregnancy and STDs.

  • Tell them why you’re asking. Is it to try to understand what they expect from you? Is it to get some information? Is it to help you make a decision, or help a friend make a decision? Telling them why will stop them from making assumptions.

What if I really can’t talk with my parents about sex?

Unfortunately, some parents can't get over their discomfort about sex. Worse, some threaten or punish their kids for bringing it up. If you feel that asking questions about sex will put you in danger, don't do it.

If you're very concerned about your parents’ reaction, you might want to put off the conversation until you feel you and your parents are more ready. Or maybe your parents aren’t around. In these cases, you could turn to another adult you trust, such as a family friend, relative, or counselor.

Staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center can also talk with you and help you find the information and resources that you need.  

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