In Spain, the average age of the first penetrative sexual relationship is in adolescence. Specifically for girls, the start of these relationships is at 16.7 years of age, according to the report The sexuality of young women in the Spanish context. Subjective perceptions and impact of training, July 2022. Studies carried out by the Spanish Contraception Society (SEC) ensure that 30 years ago these sexual relations began after the age of 19, which confirms that the active sexual life of current adolescents begins before that of their parents. But it is also true that, currently, the relationship between children and parents is different, more open and tolerant.
This is the reason why, despite the difficulty of addressing these issues for both, today young people can be supported at this important moment, something that was unthinkable in previous generations. Even so, it must be borne in mind that instilling confidence in them so that they express their doubts and fears is not a one-day job, but rather a task that must begin in childhood.
Rosa Navarro, sexologist and sex educator at Diversual, a store on-line of erotic toys, affirms that if they have never talked about anything, sitting down with them and bringing up the subject can cause great discomfort for them: “On the other hand, if we have previously done work, it will be easier for us to address it, we can even ask them directly what they know or what they think. But always looking for a suitable moment”. Navarro advises taking advantage of a series that has been seen or a piece of news that has been read to talk about it.
No master classes
For the expert, it is not advisable to talk to sons and daughters as if it were a master class on sexuality: “We can do many more things apart from giving them clear and rigorous information. Being role models, seeing how we practice empathy, assertive communication and other social skills can be as valuable as providing them with contraceptive methods”.
Raúl Padilla, sexologist and psychotherapist, speaks in the same terms: “If our communication is fluid and adequate, we will know when to introduce genitality —expression of the different characteristics of the female or male genitalia— in the emotionality of sexuality. Talking in terms like good and bad or pretty and ugly on these issues can be the beginning of schism. It’s better to approach it in terms of whether or not it’s pleasurable.” For Padilla, the playful and pleasurable aspect of sexuality is basic for coping with it and for correct communication: “It relaxes the atmosphere and allows for more difficult aspects such as self-respect or self-protection to be addressed, with a greater probability that they will be accepted and integrated.” for the teenager. We should speak the same language, share their concerns and clarify the doubts they raise”.
It is likely that if asked they will claim to know everything, even more so if it is about contraception and, specifically, the use of condoms. But the reality is that, according to Abel Renuncio, a gynecologist and member of the Spanish Contraception Society, there is still much to learn about this barrier method. “In fact, out of every 100 women who use it, 18 become pregnant, largely because it is not used well in every relationship or during the entire sexual act, but rather it is often used only at the end, when you leave. to ejaculate,” he says.
Although it is often the one that worries parents the most, this is not the only issue on which adolescents should be educated, informed and accompanied. “We must introduce other issues that include issues such as sexual orientation, desire, sexual fantasies, emotional bonding or consent,” says Navarro.
In this sense, Padilla assures that pleasure should be the center of the discourse: “We should talk about desire, the fun of the game and the need for them to be happy with what they do at all times and, if not, that don’t do it. Make it clear that this first time is not a test or a duty, that it is something natural that appears when excitement makes it inevitable”. In addition, he recommends talking about self-respect in terms of times and activities to do and mentions that it is essential to give yourself permission to say “No” or “Not yet” with affection towards the other person.
It cannot be forgotten that it is an age in which the pressure and the need to belong to the group can often influence them to the point of doing things that they do not want just to integrate. “That is why it is so important that they feel supported and not judged at home in the face of their possible sexual activity,” Navarro continues. “Moreover, if one takes into account that sexual education has great deficiencies in the educational system, which does not provide them with tools to be prepared for sexuality, which entails risks such as STIs (sexually transmitted infections that can be caused by by bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and protozoa) or unwanted pregnancies”, says Dr. Renucio. “As a consequence of this, they go to find out where they can on sites such as social networks, the accounts of influencers or porn”, adds this expert.
Precisely porn poses a serious danger when it comes to assuming gender inequality in the sexuality of adolescents. “This genre offers an image of misunderstood sexuality, with real and symbolic violence against women, which does not correspond to reality. But if it’s all they know, fiction can lead them to develop problems in adulthood.
You can follow Mamas & Papas on Facebook, Twitter or sign up here to receive our biweekly newsletter.