Kids of all ages are naturally curious about life, relationships, how bodies work, things they see on TV and everything else – in other words, they are curious about sexuality topics! Recent studies show that children who have frequent and open conversations with their parents about sex and sexuality topics have closer relationships with their parents and are more likely to make healthier, safer and better-informed decisions related to sexuality. Test your sexual health knowledge below and then use these age-appropriate facts with your middle-school aged child as a springboard into your own conversations with your children about sexual health!
1. What are the passageways that carry an egg cell from an ovary to the uterus?
c) Fallopian Tubes
2. All males are born with some loose skin covering the end of the penis, called the foreskin.
3. How many sperm does it take to fertilize an egg?
a) It takes zero sperm to fertilize an egg.
b) It takes only 1 sperm to fertilize an egg.
c) It takes 10 sperm to fertilize an egg.
d) It takes 100 sperm to fertilize an egg.
4. What are changes that both males and females experience during puberty?
a) Acne and mood swings
b) Breast development, growth spurts and hair growth (facial, under arm, pubic)
c) Sexual feelings, increase in sweat, become more mature, assume greater responsibility
d) All of the above
5. Gardasil is a vaccine for both girls and boys that reduces the risk of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause cervical cancer.
6. What percentage of teens have sent electronically, or posted online, nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves?
7. By age 13, what percentage of American girls say they are unhappy with their bodies?
1. (c) The two Fallopian tubes in a female’s body are passageways through which an egg travels on its way to the uterus. One end of each tube almost touches an ovary. The other end of each tube is connected to the uterus. Each tube is about three inches long and the width of a soda straw. Eggs begin passing through every month when a girl is going through puberty and begins to menstruate.
2. (a) Some male babies have their foreskins removed a few days after they are born, by a doctor or a specially trained religious person. This is called circumcision. Although a circumcised penis looks different from an uncircumcised penis, both work in the same way and equally well.
3. (b) Semen is the fluid that leaves a male’s body in rapid spurts through the tip of his penis. This spurting is called ejaculation, and it occurs only after puberty has begun. About 300-500 million sperm are in the semen each time a male ejaculates from the tip of his penis. The Fallopian tube is the place where an egg can meet and unite with a sperm. Once an egg has united with a sperm, they become the beginning cell of a baby. The uniting of an egg and a sperm is called fertilization.
4. (d) Puberty or adolescence is the span of time when a person’s body and feelings begin to change from a child’s to an adult’s. Between the ages of about nine and sixteen, girls and boys do more than just grow taller and bigger as they have done since birth. During this time, hormones cause boys and girls to grow and change in many ways – socially, emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually. All these changes do not take place at once. Most of them happen slowly over a few years’ time and a few can happen quickly. They often take place in a somewhat specific order but not always. Regardless of when puberty begins or ends, the entire process is normal!
5. (a) HPV is an infection caused by a virus that can be passed from one infected person to another person during sex. It is very contagious and can cause serious medical concerns. The vaccination to reduce the risk of getting HPV can be given by a health-care professional to females and males starting as young as age nine, as prevention and protection before someone is sexually active.
6. (c) Just as we need to talk openly and honestly with our kids about real life sex and relationships, we also need to discuss online and cell phone activity. Make sure kids fully understand that messages or pictures they send over the Internet or their cell phones are not truly private or anonymous. Also make sure they know that others might forward their pictures or messages to people they do not know, and that school administrators and employers often look at online profiles to make judgments about potential students/employees. It’s essential that kids grasp the potential short and long-term consequences of their actions.
7. (a) Families who openly discuss the unrealistic images seen daily on TV, the Internet, and in magazines can help our girls and boys foster a healthier relationship with their bodies. Parents play a critical role in promoting a positive sense of self and “body confidence” in children. By focusing less on weight and body shape in our own conversations, greetings, and compliments, we can break the habit of reinforcing beauty stereotypes for our children. Emphasize health, ability, emotions and qualities more than looks. “You are so brave,” You are so smart,” “You made a good decision,” and “How do you feel?” can help our children feel good about who they are and what makes them special.
#1-5: It’s Perfectly Normal, Robie Harris
#6: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
#7: National Institute of Media and Family