How to talk to your daughter about sex, puberty

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Although you may be apprehensive about discussing puberty and sex with your daughter, the sooner you initiate the conversation, the better your daughter will be able to understand the many changes that she is experiencing.

Some people avoid the topic because they are in denial about their daughter's maturity. Others worry that talking about sex and their daughters' changing bodies lead to early experimentation. Some fear the conversation will change the relationship with their daughter.

Because your daughter has started puberty, don't delay discussing puberty any longer. Many teens turn to friends and the media to get answers. Much of that information may be way off base.

The No. 1 source teens wish they can to go with questions is their parents.

Refusing to talk about puberty or sex doesn't make the potential problems go away. More than 40 percent of adolescents have had sex by the 10th grade. That jumps to 62 percent by their senior year.

Studies show that talking openly and honestly about sex can help prevent unwanted teen pregnancies.

If you are nervous to talk about some of these topics, that's OK. But don't let it deter you.

Many schools still shy away from sex education. If your daughter is not getting information about these subjects at school, she is likely to have lots of questions.

Some of the topics you'll need to be ready to address are obvious. Others, less so.

  • Menstruation
  • Breast enlargement and bras
  • Increased body hair and shaving
  • Body odor
  • Acne
  • Sex
  • Birth control
  • STDs
  • Pregnancy
  • Weight gain, exercise and nutrition

Studies show that parents are the best source of information for their children.

Some of the issues surrounding puberty and sex may be embarrassing, but that is OK. Simply let you daughter know you are ready, willing and able to answer all of her questions.

Most importantly, resist the temptation to lecture. Simply listen and ask her opinion. There are many myths about sex and puberty which you can clarify for her.

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