Friday, June 9, 2023

Talking to Your Teen About HPV: Tips for Parents

Talking about sex is something that a lot of parents find to be embarrassing but it is crucial they get the facts from you as their parent. With technology such as the Internet, it is easy for teenagers to find information about sex and sexually transmitted diseases but it is not always the best approach. Talking to your teenager about sexually transmitted diseases such as the Human Papilloma Virus can be difficult but it is a disease that needs more conversation. There have been many research studies showing the rise in the number of people with the disease throughout the past few years, and new studies have shown only a small number of children are getting vaccinated against this disease. Only you as a parent can decide when the time is right to talk to your teenager about the Human Papilloma Virus but remember the earlier the better. The best course of action a parent can take is to be involved and let your child get the information from you when possible. Parents need to talk to their teenager about sex because it is something that as a parent you need to inform your child about so they can make the right decisions. If you are going to talk to your teenager about the Human Papilloma Virus, then here are four tips you should keep in mind.


Dedicate Alone Time with Child

The first thing you want to do if you are going to be talking to your teenager about the Human Papilloma Virus is dedicate alone time with your child. Make sure you turn the television off and that your teenager has your full attention while you discuss this with them. Do not allow them to be texting or using their cell phone during this time; make sure they have your undivided attention. Since it is serious and can affect men and women, your teenager needs to be able to grasp the various aspects of the sexually transmitted disease. Set a time and place in your house where you and your teenager can sit down together without any interruptions. If you have a female teenager then it is probably better having the mother talk about these issues but for a male teenager, the dad might make the situation more comfortable. By turning off the television and not allowing any distractions, you will show your teenager this issue is important to them and you as a parent as well.

Relay Facts and Only Reliable Information

Once your teenager has your undivided attention you can then begin talking about the Human Papilloma Virus and relevant information about the virus itself. It is your job as a parent to gather all information relating to the disease and the affect it can have on a person. If you do not know all the facts about the Human Papilloma Virus you can get on the Internet and find valuable information relating to the disease. Here are some of the most important facts you want to relay to your teenager. You want your teenager to know that the Human Papilloma Virus is the most common family of viruses and that it is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world today. Both men and women are at risk and it is likely your teenager will get the virus at some point in their lifetime. You need to let your child know that sometimes the virus can go undetected for a long time and symptoms might not always appear right away. Your teenager needs to know that it can persist for a long time and can lead to genital or anal warts. If you have a teenager who is a female, you also need to make sure they understand that this disease can also lead to cervical cancer or vulva cancer. There are both “high risk” and “low risk” categories of the disease since it has over 100 different strands. The low risk varieties are responsible for the warts on the anal and genitals but the high risk carry the risk of precancerous lesions and can lead to other genital cancers.

Talk About Ways of Transmission

You should also inform your teenager that the Human Papilloma Virus is contracted through various ways. Someone who has never engaged in sexual intercourse can still get it even without actual penetration into the vagina. Skin-to-skin contact is the most common way that the Human Papilloma Virus is spread, which means contact with the genitals of an affected person. You might not be able to actually see any lesions or warts on someone who is affected with the virus, which is why skin-to-skin contact is most commonly linked to contracting the disease. If you kiss or touch a person who has the disease, it could also be transmitted that way which is something your teenager needs to know. Oral sex is also one way in which you can get the disease and this is definitely something you should discuss with your teenager. A lot of teenagers have a misconception that touching or kissing on the genitals can not give you a sexually transmitted disease, but with the Human Papilloma Virus it can. Also, condoms are not always the best defense when it comes to protecting yourself since the warts or lesions can be in areas a condom does not cover. You want to definitely tell your teenager that condoms do protect you against other sexually transmitted diseases to a point, but it is not always going to protect you depending on what you are doing sexually.

Talk To Kids About Consequences

As a parent you also need to talk to your teenager about the long-term consequences of sexually transmitted diseases such as the Human Papilloma Virus. The Human Papilloma Virus does not have a cure since it is a virus, which means it will always be in your system and in your blood. A lot of teenagers do not think about the long-term impact that the Human Papilloma Virus can have, and they need to be aware there is no cure. For a teenager, the long-term impact could be devastating because they will have to live with it for the rest of their life. You need to explain that although the warts might go away either with treatment or on their own, it is not gone forever. Most people, who have the disease, will get a flare-up of the condition a few times in their life and it can be embarrassing as well as painful. Sexually transmitted diseases that are bacterial do have a cure and are treated by antibiotics, but viral diseases have no cure and often you are just treating the symptoms as they appear. Also someone with the disease has the ability to infect another person regardless of whether or not warts are present at that time. With the Human Papilloma Virus, you can transmit it to someone else without even knowing you did. This disease is very sneaky in that you will not see warts or lesions on someone with the disease all the time, which means it can be transmitted silently. So when you talk to your teenager, you need to let them know that it is something they will need to tell every sexual partner they have for the rest of their life. If you can get your teenager to realize that it will stay with them forever and it is often a silent disease, it might make them more aware of the long-term consequences that come with it.

The most difficult part of being a parent is knowing when to approach conversations relating to sex and sexually transmitted diseases. Some parents choose to put their head in the sand and act like sex is something their teenager will not engage in or if they do not talk about it then it will not happen. As a parent you need to realize that sooner or later your child will be out there having sex and that they need information such as about the Human Papilloma Virus to be prepared and safe. You should never as a parent become too embarrassed to talk about sex, because it is natural and eventually we all do it. It is also important that you look to books or the Internet for help to show pictures of the Human Papilloma Virus to your teenager so they can see what the disease looks like. If you are unsure of the facts besides those listed here about the Human Papilloma Virus, then you should be getting information to printout during the discussion with your teenager. You also should be prepared for your teenager to ask you questions about your sex life such as when your first time was or if you used condoms, which you should be honest to your teenager when you answer them. The biggest part of talking to your teenager is to be honest and open and let your teenager know you are there for them. With the Internet and easy access to pornography and other sexually-explicit information, you as a parent need to initiate the conversations before your teenager find alternative routes. Remember, you want your child to be safe in whatever they do, you do not have to condone sex but you should be willing to help them protect themselves.

Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.


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