Talking to your parents about sex is a huge topic, and could pose numerous challenges if your parents disapprove of you having sex or even just thinking about sex. Many young people keep their sexual activity secret from their parents for fear of being shamed or punished. However, it is certainly no secret that young people are sexually active and may be engaging in unprotected sex. In fact, 54% of Mississippi high school students say they have ever had sex, and 39% say they did not use a condom the last time they had sex. So what are youth to do if they don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about sex, but want to be safe and protect themselves from an unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease (STD)? We can seek contraceptives and testing services at our local county health department clinic, where such services are confidential and kept secret from your parents. Fortunately, there are regulations in place at county health departments that protect the privacy of all young people, but there are some circumstances that would require healthcare providers to disclose certain information to parents.
Your health is the priority and protecting yourself against STDs and unplanned pregnancy should not be
forgotten about. The good news is that in most states, including in Mississippi, once you turn 13 you can get tested for STDs without parental notification. County health departments in Mississippi, which provide testing and contraceptive services, are required by law to protect the rights and privacy of all its patients, including services provided to young people. If the health department clinics are not your first choice for testing and educational resources, understand that there may be other healthcare providers and clinics
in your area that may better assist you with your needs. For some youth this may not be ideal, especially if the clinic does not offer free testing, contraceptive services, and education. Be aware that if you use your parent’s insurance at these clinics, your parents will be billed and notified of the reason for such charges. This is certainly not the way you want to tell your parents that you are having sex. However, county health departments provide testing, contraceptive services, and education at free or reduced prices, and don’t
require your parent’s insurance to seek the care you need there, meaning your parents will never be billed and notified of the services you receive.
You should always speak with your healthcare provider one-on-one and ask what type of privacy they can offer you. You can also ask what type of questions they are willing to answer about sex. Providers are the experts and are willing and ready to provide you with these services without breeching your privacy. Although these services and counseling are available to you, understand that there are certain circumstances where healthcare providers may be required by law to disclose your personal information to your parents. Some situations that would warrant this type of disclosure are if the provider suspects rape, relationship violence, or anything that could be potentially life threatening. This is why having a conversation with your provider about what type of privacy they can offer you is extremely important, and know that it is important to share with your parents or providers if your life is being threatened in any way.
Although locating a nearby clinic can be challenging for those living in rural areas or medically under-served areas, it doesn’t have to be that way. Fortunately, www.factnotfiction.com/clinic-finder is available to assist you with your search for sexuality information services, and is a great resource for locating clinics in your area. Also, please remember that schools sometimes offer sexual health services, and can provide
you with resources and education you need to protect you from STDs and unplanned pregnancy. Your health above all should be your top priority, and speaking up and seeking care will help you optimize your health than not saying anything at all.