It may be a topic you feel uncomfortable discussing with your daughter or son, or a topic they are not comfortable discussing with you, but the area of contraception is important for everyone’s peace of mind.

Whether you wish to discuss it face to face, to provide informative and educational materials on the various methods of contraception on offer or set up an appointment for them with a GP or nurse, there are options to suit everybody.

Your daughter or son may be embarrassed to admit they don’t know something about sex, and so avoid the topic entirely. Look for natural opportunities to discuss sexual health issues, for example a scene in a television show or movie.

Even though they may not be having sex yet, educating them so they are fully prepared once they do, can help to reduce the chance of unplanned pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

But remember, it’s best not to pry. Respect their privacy, and show them that you trust them to make good decisions. Education is power!

The times, they are changing: Cast your mind back to when you were thinking about contraception for the first time. Since then, things may have changed with more options available and different attitudes to sex and contraception. They may even be better informed than you! Do a little research before you try and tackle the topic to ensure you’re up to speed.

Top tips for speaking with your daughter or son

Be prepared – You may not wish to know if your daughter or son is having sex, but once the topic of sex and contraception has been broached they may tell you they are, or are considering it. Arming them with all the details on contraception, and the access to speak with professionals, means they will be informed and prepared, reducing the chance of unplanned pregnancies or STIs.

Be open – Consider their needs, and what they may need their contraception to do for them. Are they in a relationship, or are they with multiple partners, or have had previous partners? Taking time to consider their needs and sexual activity means you will be able to discuss the best options with them. Do they need to visit a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinic? Don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening!

Be practical – With around 12 different methods to choose from, there's a good chance they will find one which is right for them and their lifestyle.

Be assured – There is no need for embarrassment! Contraception is a normal part of life but many people are not confident discussing it with their children. A GP or nurse will be able to answer their questions and help guide them on the best contraception for them.

Be informed – Taking some time to research the various contraception options available can help to make the conversation easier, as you will feel more informed and confident when discussing their needs. There are many options available to them.

Be honest –Unplanned pregnancies and STIs happen. STIs including syphilis, chlamydia, genital warts and herpes have been on the increase in Ireland for a number of years. If an STI goes undiagnosed, it can lead to more serious, permanent consequences, including infertility in women.
Remember: condoms can protect you from many STIs.

If you are still feeling unsure or unwilling to discuss it with your children, why not set up an appointment with a GP or nurse?

The information on this website is educational only and is not intended to be used for any self-diagnosis purposes nor to replace the advice of your doctor or healthcare professional. Please consult your doctor or healthcare professional for further information on your contraceptive options. This website is intended for use by residents of the Republic of Ireland only. This website is developed and maintained by MSD Ireland (Human Health). See for more information.

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Registered Address: MSD Ireland (Human Health), Red Oak North, South County Business Park, Leopardstown Dublin 18. 
A company registered in Ireland. Company Registration Number: 376424
All people depicted on this site are models and are used for illustrative purposes only.

Job code WOMN-1178118-0000 Date of preparation: July 2016