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Mothers play a central role in shaping their daughters’ knowledge of and attitudes about sexual health. Having the talk isn’t always easy, but it is important. By having open communication with your daughter, you can help her protect herself from STDs and unwanted pregnancies and see going to the gynecologist for checkups as a normal part of well-being. Although the conversation can be tricky, these tips will help you get started.

Don’t Wait for the Right Moment

There is no perfect time to start talking to your teen about sexual health. Instead of waiting for the exact right moment, seize on opportunities that arise. Something on a television show or movie or a snippet of an overheard conversation can be all that you need to broach the subject. Your daughter may be resistant to having the conversation, but the message you want to deliver will still get through. Keep bringing up the subject when you see an opportunity, as sexual health should be an ongoing conversation as your teen daughter grows.

Get Real About the Pressures

You may not want to think about the pressures your teen is likely to be facing, but ignoring them could put your daughter at risk. Be upfront and honest as you discuss issues of sexual activity, STDs, and birth control pills. Tell your daughter how to protect herself and how to get help if she thinks she needs STD testing or could have an unwanted pregnancy.

Involve a Gynecologist

Your daughter should have her first gynecology checkup by age 18—or earlier, if she is sexually active. Help your daughter find a gynecologist she feels comfortable talking to, and give her the freedom to talk to the doctor on her own about her sexual health concerns.

The compassionate team at Washington Surgi-Clinic offers supportive care to women of all ages for everything from Pap smears to STD treatment and pregnancy termination in Washington, D.C. For an appointment, please call (202) 659-9403.