Advocate For Yourself

Ok, so you’ve been learning about your health and how to take care of yourself. Awesome! But, it’s one thing to know the info and another to be able to talk about something like sexual health and relationships with another person. We’re here to help! We wish we lived in a world where everyone felt comfortable talking about stuff like STIs and birth control, but since we don’t we have a few tips for having conversations about these topics. 

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Talking to Partners

Open and honest communication is one of the most important things in a healthy relationship. That doesn’t mean it’s easy though. It can feel scary to bring up something like using condoms or your boundaries when you don’t know how the other person might react. You are responsible for yourself, your health, and your safety, not their reactions.

 

Here are some recommendations

 

  • Think about what you want to say ahead of time so you know what is negotiable and non-negotiable for you.

  • Start by sharing something you learned and then ask them what they think about it. It could be something you heard from a friend or you read on this website.

  • Share how you feel. If you feel a little anxious, it’s ok to say that.

  • State why the topic is important to you. Maybe it’s related to a goal you have or what you need to feel comfortable with.

 

Here are some examples

 

  • “My future is important to me, and I know getting pregnant right now could make it harder for me. Can we talk about using birth control?”

  • “I care so much about you, but having sex isn’t something I feel comfortable with yet. Could we just stick with making out right now? I really like that.”

  • “I feel a little weird asking this, but with Matt and Sam fighting so much I’ve been thinking about what I’d do if we had a big fight. Can we talk about it so we don’t have the same problems they do?”

Talking to Parents and Caregivers

Young people have a lot of different experiences talking with parents and caregivers about sex and relationships. Whether they are open and supportive or they are uncomfortable and upset, it can be tough for young people to talk with parents and caregivers. Wanting to talk with your parents or caregivers about sexual health and relationships is a big mature step, it shows that you know how important it is to have people supporting you as you take care of yourself.

 

For some young people though, their parent or caregiver might not be the best person to talk to if there is a difference of opinions or values that might lead to a fight instead of a helpful conversation. If that is the case, think about other adults in your life who can help you.

 

Here are some tips

 

  • You can reference something you learned or heard on TV or in a song.

  • You could ask a theoretical question to get their opinions on a topic so you can feel out where they stand before talking about yourself.

  • Remember, talking about sex isn’t the same as talking about your sex life.

  • You know them pretty well. If they would like some research or to know that you’ve thought about how a decision fits with your values, think about how to share that.

 

Here are some examples

 

  • “Did you hear that? The song says that they want to mess with drunk girls. Isn't that illegal?”

  • “Leo was talking about how he got tested for chlamydia with his pediatrician. Aren’t there doctors for that stuff?”

  • “You’ve talked so much about me making choices for myself and I’m wondering if you could help me figure out what that means when it comes to dating.”

Talking to Medical Providers

An important part of growing up and taking care of yourself is taking control of your health and healthcare. Medical providers are a big part of that. When it comes to talking about sexual and reproductive health with a medical provider, you may feel comfortable doing that with your usual provider or you may feel more comfortable seeing someone who just does sexual and reproductive healthcare. For them to be your true partner in being healthy, you have to be able to talk honestly about what is going on with you.

 

Here are some tips

 

  • Remember, there are no dumb questions!

  • It is your body and you get to make choices about it.

  • If you don’t feel comfortable with a medical provider, find a different one.

  • Be open about what is going on with you, even if it’s not about your sexual health. Medical providers can help with a lot of things like stress, finding housing, or getting healthy foods.

  • Not all medical providers know the slang for body parts or sex, so you might have to use different words with them to make sure they understand.