Sooner or later, the time will likely come when your daughter wants to know how boy anatomy is different than girl anatomy. They may even ask about this topic more than once in their lifetime, for different reasons. Certainly, your answer will depend on your daughter’s age and maturity.
If your daughter is under 8 years old, the answer can be very simple. Her question might make you think that she wants a more mature answer, but she is not aware of the complex answer she could receive. Keep it simple. Listen carefully and only answer what she is asking. For example, if she wants to know why she doesn’t have a penis, you can simply say that she has a special little opening where pee comes out. She doesn’t need a penis.
Give Age-Appropriate Answers
As your daughter enters early puberty, about 8-10 years old, it is time to introduce more boy anatomy. It would be interesting for her to know that boys also enter puberty just like girls, but it happens about a year later. They experience some of the same changes, like body odor, but then, of course, the changes are very different.
You could explain that while she experiences changes in her breasts, boys experience changes to their scrotum and penis. Your daughter might be interested to know about the function of sperm, to help make babies, and that sperm are made in the testicles. This discussion could also include an explanation about testicles being protected in a pouch of skin called the scrotum.
After about 11 years old, the information you share with your daughter can be a little more complete. Now it is time to begin the discussion about reproduction. To be perfectly clear, I don’t mean sex. This conversation should be about conception and how the egg and sperm meet, which does not need to include a talk about intercourse. Here’s how that explanation can go.
Teach About Reproduction Before Sex
Begin with information about your daughter’s anatomy. First, she should understand that the ovaries contain eggs and that an egg leaves
one of the ovaries each month. It is swept into the fallopian tube and waits there to see if a sperm comes along. Some other parts of her anatomy she should know is the fallopian tube, uterus, and vagina.
After she understands her own anatomy, then you can explain that sperm travel from the vagina, through the uterus, to the fallopian tube where an egg might be waiting. If an egg is in the fallopian tube, it only takes one sperm to join the egg and a baby begins to form.
This information, when coupled with what she already knows about her menstrual cycle helps to connect the dots between her biological signal for the egg to leave the ovary and the beginning of a baby.
There is a great video that shows the egg and sperm meeting and formation of a baby. It shows conception to birth in 4 minutes.
I also want to put your mind to rest about a common question. It is not true that teaching adolescents about their anatomy and reproduction will make them more interested in engaging in sex. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a study in 2009 reviewed 63 studies that measured the impact of sexuality education programs and confirmed NONE of these programs hasten sexual activity, and in fact, 37% had a positive impact on safer sexual behaviors and can delay sexual intercourse.
Bringing these topics out in the open helps our children understand that these curiosities are normal; wanting to know about our bodies is natural and healthy. Answering these questions takes some of the mystery away from these functions and processes and your daughter (or son) will feel more confident in what they know. And, because they have gotten the information from you, a trusted source, they are less likely to go searching around for answers in places you would rather they not go.