Sex Education and the ObGyn: the ACOG Committee Opinion

CLINICAL ACTIONS

Comprehensive sexuality education should be medically accurate, evidence-based, and age-appropriate. Obstetrician-gynecologists can take part in this by addressing issues directly with adolescent patients in the following ways:

  • Participate locally in development of community programs on sexuality utilizing evidence-based curricula that focus on clear health goals (e.g. the prevention of pregnancy and STDs, including HIV)
  • Provide health care that focuses on optimizing sexual and reproductive health and development
  • Aid in designing programs that cover the variations in sexual expression, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, mutual masturbation, as well as texting and virtual sex

SYNOPSIS:

Community and school-based programs are an important facet of sexuality education. However, a preponderance of evidence suggests that when a responsible adult talks about sexual topics with adolescents, there is delayed sexual initiation and increased birth control and condom use. Although many parents talk with their adolescents about risks and responsibilities of sexual activity, one-third to one-half of females aged 15–19 years report never having talked with a parent about contraception, STDs, or “how to say no to sex.” The gynecologist can also play an important supporting role in this dialogue by open discussions with parents, guardians and adolescents.

KEY POINTS:

  • Sexuality education should be evidence-based and should include the benefits of delaying sexual intercourse, while also providing information about normal reproductive development, contraception (including long-acting reversible contraception methods) to prevent unintended pregnancies, as well as barrier protection to prevent STDs
  • Sex education should be tailored to specific ethnicities and cultural groups and should be inclusive of those with physical, and cognitive disabilities
  • Sex education should not marginalize lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, and transgender individuals and those that have variations in sexual development
  • Studies have demonstrated that comprehensive sexuality education programs reduce the rates of sexual activity, sexual risk behaviors (e.g. number of partners and unprotected intercourse, STDs, and adolescent pregnancy)
  • Obstetrician–gynecologists have the unique opportunity to act “bi-generationally” by asking their patients about their adolescents’ reproductive development and sexual education, human papillomavirus vaccination status, and contraceptive needs

Learn More – Primary Sources:

ACOG Committee Opinion 678: Comprehensive Sexuality Education