With early adolescence comes a natural curiosity for experimentation. According to the most recent Adolescent Health and Sexuality Survey conducted among 15-19-year-olds in the Cayman Islands, the average age at which children become sexually active is 14. At the same time, only 27.8% of participants felt comfortable sharing their sexual health concerns with a health care professional, while the majority of those surveyed had not discussed sex or contraception at all with a parent or trusted guardian.
There’s no denying that talking to your children about sex can be a tricky subject to navigate. However, often it is our first encounter with the topic which shapes our views on it. Parents should recognise that creating precedence for frankness when discussing sex and sexual health is setting the stage for safe sex practices which will follow children into adulthood. Teens and children often have misconceptions surrounding this subject, and providing a platform in which they are invited to share their uncertainties can prevent unforeseen health risks and unwanted pregnancies in the future.
There isn’t one definitive answer to this question and all the bases don’t have to be covered in a single conversation. Answer your child’s questions honestly and make room for an on-going dialogue in your household, but keep the details age appropriate.Try to get an idea of what information they already have, and consider what answers a seven year old would be looking for, versus a 13 year old.
Contraception is the process of taking steps to ensure you do not become pregnant when you have sex. Certain contraception can also protect against some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If your teen is sexually active, he or she needs to be taking the appropriate steps to ensure that they are protected. Take the time to talk to your teen about the various options and assess the pros and cons, so together you can choose which birth control best suits their individual needs. Below are some commonly used methods of birth control:
• Abstinence: This is the only method of birth control which is 100% effective in preventing pregnancies and the contraction of STDs. Abstinence is the practice of refraining from some or all sexual activity.
• Condoms: Condoms are the most widely used birth control method available to men. If used correctly, condoms are 98% effective in protecting against pregnancies and STDs, such as HIV/AIDS. Condoms can also be used in conjunction with other methods of birth control to increase their effectiveness.
• Hormone Pills: Commonly referred to as ‘the pill’, birth control pills contain hormones which prevent women from ovulating. If taken at the same time every day birth control pills can be very effective in preventing pregnancies. It is important to note that the birth control pill does not protect against STDs and that there are risks and side effects associated with long term use.
• Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives: For example, injections, implants, intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUCDs – also known as coils) or other intrauterine systems such as Mirena (IUD). These do not protect the user against STDs. Some factors for you and your teen to discuss when considering contraceptive methods include how the chosen method will suit their lifestyle, whether they want to take it daily or less often, and any existing health issues such as migraines or high blood pressure and family history.
Free condoms are available at all District Health Clinics, the Cayman Islands’ Red Cross, The Cayman AIDS Foundation and at the UCCI Student Services. Any other form of contraceptive requires a doctor’s appointment. Dr. Heidi Fahy at Cayman Clinic specialises in women’s health and family planning. For appointments with Dr. Fahy, call (345) 949 7400. The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) provides free HIV and Syphilis testing at the Red Cross every Tuesday 9am-1pm. All District Clinics, the Women’s Health Centre and OceanMed provide information on sexual health and STD screening. OceanMed can be contacted at (345) 946 2326. See Page
123 in the print copy of Cayman Parent for a full list of local family doctors who can advise on the various types of contraception.