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Teens aren’t learning enough about condoms and safe sex at doctor’s visits, a new study suggests.
Doctors spend a measly 36 seconds on average talking about sex with teen patients, a new study finds.
Researchers at Duke University said physisicans are missing out on a crucial opportunity for sex education by skipping “the talk,” and added that teens themselves aren’t likely to bring up the subject.
“It’s hard for physicians to treat adolescents and help them make healthy choices about sex if they don’t have these conversations,” said lead study author Stewart Alexander, an associate professor of medicine at Duke.
“For teens who are trying to understand sex and sexuality, not talking about sex could have huge implications.”
Researchers listened to audio-recordings of 253 adolescents’ visits with physicians in North Carolina, noting how often sex was brought up, how long the conversation lasted and who initiated it.
They found doctors spend about 22 minutes in the exam room with young patients, but less than a minute is devoted to sex talk. Girls are more likely to ask about sex than boys — a troubling finding, Alexander said, as men are less likely to see doctors for routine visits as they get older, so they have fewer opportunities to talk about sex with a doctor.
Older teens were more likley to talk about sex than younger teens, and longer visits and confidentality also increased chances that sex talk was initiated, according to the study, published late last month in JAMA Pediatrics.
Alexander urged doctors to engage young patients when it comes to topics like STDs, birth control and safe sex.