S*x is a tricky subject for doctors when dealing with adolescent patients. That is why many doctors do not spend a whole lot of time talking to their young patients about it. They will ask a few questions that are pertinent to the checkup such as whether the teens are engaged in s*xual activity. One study showed that doctors spent an average of 36 seconds of conversation during a meeting with an adolescent patient talking about s*xuality and that was it.
The study was conducted on 253 patients and 49 different physicians. They listened to audio recordings of annual physicals (with parental consent) with teens ages 12-17. What they found is that the doctors were hardly spending any time at all talking about s*xuality. Out of the data that they analyzed they found that in 30% of the meetings (average of 22 minutes per meeting) only one to 35 seconds was being spent on questions about s*xuality. In 35% of meetings the numbers were slightly higher. The longest that was recorded was just under 2 minutes.
The researchers found that when the doctors were asking questions the adolescents were mostly answering with one word answers and that was all. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics this is not enough time at all. They said that physicians should be explaining some of the changes that the teens bodies are going through and should ask more in depth questions so that the teens can be informed. Asking their parents these questions is often embarrassing and more adolescents feel more comfortable talking with a doctor about s*x.
The doctors were also found to be less confident in having these talks with their patients or were afraid of overstepping their bounds with the parents. They are missing a great opportunity to educate youth and to give them a safe place to talk about issues they don’t want to discuss with their parents.