That Sex Talk With Mom and Dad

STI discussions and using other birth control methods affect condom usage differently

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The "talk" — teens don't really want to hear it. Parents don't really like bringing it up. But sex is kind of a big deal.

If a young lady is already using some kind of birth control, "the talk" doesn't really affect whether or not she and her partner will use a condom during sex, according to a recently published study.

Talking about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may increase condom use though, which might help women and their partners make safe choices during heated moments.

"Use birth control."

Researchers, led by Heather Bradley, PhD, epidemic intelligence service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, gathered information from the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth, which collects data on family life across the U.S.

The study included more than 1,200 unmarried women who were sexually active and ranged between 15 and 24 years of age.

Researchers tracked how often the women used condoms during their most recent sexual encounter. They looked for links between condom usage and whether the young women had discussed sexually transmitted diseases with their parents before becoming an adult.

The women were placed into groups based on whether or not they used condoms, as well as by their ethnicity, age and income. Just under half the women used other kinds of birth control.

Among this group, researchers calculated that 47 percent of women who discussed STDs with their parents would use a condom during sex, compared to 31 percent of women who didn't have the talk.

At the same time, 64 percent of the women who did not use another contraceptive method used a condom.

Women who had the talk with their parents may be less likely to take risks and more likely to listen to their parents to begin with, according to researchers.

"We did not find an association between discussing condom use with parents and using condoms [the most recent time the girls had sex] among either contraceptive use group," researchers wrote in their report.

"Discussing condoms generally, in the absence of specific messages related to [STDs] or HIV, may be insufficient for behavior change."

Just over half the women used a condom the last time they had sex, researchers found.

Age-wise, 58 percent of women between 15 and 19 years old were more likely to use a condom compared to 50 percent of women in their early 20s.

Women who used a condom the first time they had sex were 39 percent more likely to keep using condoms during sex. Further, those who first had sex when they were at least 15 were 54 percent more likely to keep using condoms.

"Positive, empowering conversations between parents and young women about condom use may be particularly helpful in increasing condom use," researchers wrote in their report.

"Both condom use and dual contraceptive use are associated with high self-esteem, self-efficacy for negotiating condom use and confidence to communicate effectively with sexual partners. Parents have a critical role to play in cultivating these attributes among their daughters."

The authors noted that they did not know exactly what parents and their daughters discussed during their STD talks and what their relationships were like between them.

The study was published online December 21 in the journal Sexual Health. Conflicts of interest and funding information were not available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 11, 2013
Last Updated:
January 11, 2013