Ask any adult woman if communication matters to sex and you will get a clear answer - YES! Ask a teenager, and you are likely to get many different answers.
A recent research study by Widman, Welsh, McNulty & Little published in the Journal of Adolescent Health explored communication and contraceptive use in adolescent couples. Their results suggested that open sexual communication is important to contraception, and specifically:
30% of the couples did not use contraception during first intercourse;
Almost 50% of couples did not use contraception every time they had sex;
Open sexual communication meant more contraceptive use; and
Teens who reported being more satisfied with their relationship reported more open sexual communication.
So, the take home message is - teens who talk about sex are happier in their relationships and more likely to use contraception - translating to parents as follows:
Talk to your teens about sex and protection;
Clearly state your expectation that before they have sex they need to be able to talk about sex with their partner - about protecting themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and deciding on a reliable method of birth control to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancy; and
make sure they know where to obtain condoms and birth control.