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Should You Tell the Doctor If You Are Having Sex?

If you have your mom take you to get birth control and they ask if you are sexually active, does it matter if you say yes or no?
- Inez*

Yes, it does matter: You need to tell the doctor because having sex can affect your health in ways you might not see or feel. For example, some people with STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) have no idea that they have an infection because there are no signs. But if a person isn't treated, it could lead to serious health problems like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause infertility (the inability to have a baby).

This is why doctors ask their patients if they are having sex or have had sex in the past. Knowing this lets the doctor test for "hidden" infections to be sure everything's OK. It also means the doctor can give you the right advice for your situation. If you're getting a prescription for birth control pills, for example, the doctor will want to talk about using condoms as a way to help protect against STDs.

Of course, it can be awkward for some people to talk about this stuff in front of a parent. If you don't feel comfortable or you're worried about your mom finding out, call the doctor's office before your appointment and say you'd like a few minutes alone with the doctor. You could also write a note asking to see the doctor alone and give it to the person at the front desk when you check in.

It's great that you've decided to ask your mom to help — and it's great that she cares enough about you to be with you at the appointment. So think about letting her know too. She already knows that you are planning to have sex, and she probably realizes that you might have had sex already. Even if she might not agree with your decision to have sex now, she probably wants to help you do whatever is needed to keep yourself healthy and safe.

Sex is a tough subject, but the most important thing is to get past any awkwardness so you can protect yourself. Your mom and your doctor can make sure you get the best care.

Reviewed by: Julia Brown Lancaster, BSN, RN, CAPA
Date reviewed: January 2012

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*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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