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Let’s talk about it: Teens and STI testing

As parents, we are advised to have open and honest conversations with our teenagers about a variety of topics, including sex. In May 2022, I shared in this blog my experience talking to my two kids about their sexual health, but I have learned that the conversation doesn’t end with the basics. One important aspect of sexual health is testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  

As my children entered their teenage years, I knew it was important that they have accurate information and understood the importance of taking care of their sexual health. I had separate talks with each of my teens, and used age-appropriate language to explain the importance of consent. I emphasized that they had the right to decide whether or not to get tested for STIs and to have control over their own bodies.  

I also listened to their concerns and answered their questions. My kids were curious about STIs and wanted to know how they are transmitted and how they can be prevented. By doing research, I was able to provide them with accurate information and emphasize the importance of safe sex practices, such as using condoms.  

I also let my teens know that there are resources available for STI testing, such as Planned Parenthood, Alder Health (an LGBTQIA center), or their primary care doctor. I wanted them to know that they have options and that they don’t have to go through this process alone.  

One of the major reasons for teens to get tested for STIs is because the infections can have serious health consequences if left untreated. STIs can cause fertility issues and even increase the risk of certain cancers. Getting tested and treated early can help prevent a potential health crisis. Testing is also recommended even if the teens are not sexually active, since some STIs can be transmitted in non-sexual ways, even when no symptoms are present.  

As uncomfortable as it was to raise the issue, talking to my teens about STI testing was a valuable and important conversation for all of us. By being open, willing to listen and providing them with accurate information and resources, I was able to help my kids make informed decisions about their sexual health, and stress the importance of taking care of and protecting themselves and their partners.  

Here are some facts about sexually transmitted infection.* 

  • STIs are common: STIs can affect people of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. In the United States, there are around 1 million new cases of STIs EVERY DAY. 
  • STIs can be transmitted through sexual and other activity: They can also be transmitted through the sharing of needles or other injection drug use equipment. 
  • Many STIs have no symptoms:  STIs, including HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, often have no symptoms. Testing is appropriate even if there are no symptoms.  
  • STIs can be treated: Most STIs can be treated with antibiotics or other medications. Testing and early treatment can prevent potential health consequences. 
  • Condoms can help prevent STIs: Using condoms consistently and correctly can help reduce the risk of STI transmission.  
  • STIs can be prevented: There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting an STI, including using condoms consistently and correctly, getting vaccinated, and practicing monogamy with a partner who has also been tested. 

* (Source: World Health Organization (WHO))  

The most important guidance is that you as a parent should do what is right for your family. Only you know what’s best for you and those miraculous beings we are raising.   

Sending you love and compassion… and a whole lotta courage. You got this.   




Beth Montgomery
Beth Montgomery is a single mom of teens and is a Jill of all trades who lives in the Harrisburg area. While she wasn't born anywhere near here (or even in this country), she calls Central PA home (for now) and writes about her journeys through adulting... with kids. Visit her online at or connect with her on the socials.

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