The current focus on woman’s reproductive health has provided an opportunity for me to encourage parents to educate their young girls about reproduction.
It has also inspired new dialogue about what we need our young boys to know about reproduction. I believe we have a duty to educate them because they are half of the reproduction equation and they should understand their responsibilities. When a girl gets pregnant and becomes a mother, a boy also becomes a father, and that is a responsibility that will last a lifetime.
Here are two of my concerns about what boys know
Are our sons receiving enough information about their reproductive system that they will be able to make an informed decision for themselves as they mature?
Do they understand a girl’s reproductive system and how conception happens?
Pre-teen or young teen boys, 11years-old and a bit older, tend to resist learning basic information about reproduction, and especially learning it from their parents. There can be many reasons and rationalizations for this, but it doesn’t detract from the importance of it. There are basic concepts that are essential for them to understand so they can be responsible with their choices.
What Your Son Needs to Know
Below are the four basic topics I encourage every parent to make sure their son has learned before his 12th birthday.
1. The brain uses hormones to tell cells in the testicles to make testosterone. Testosterone helps sperm to be produced and the rest of the reproductive anatomy to be healthy.
2. Sperm are produced in the testicles and travel in a long tube to the penis. Along the way, fluid from glands mixes with the sperm and forms semen. During an ejaculation, semen flows inside a tube in the penis and comes out the end of the penis. There are about 100 million sperm in the semen in each ejaculation.
3. During reproduction, sperm enters the vagina of the female anatomy, travels through the uterus and into the fallopian tube to wait for an egg. Typically, one sperm and one egg join forming a fertilized egg that grows into a baby inside the uterus.
- Conception, or the process of the sperm joining the egg, is the purpose of both the male and female reproductive system. It is relatively easy to become pregnant, especially if you are young. There are safe options to prevent pregnancy before sex. It is important to explain the options to your son or at least explain that a condom prevents sperm from getting into the female reproductive system. With the help of the figure in Item 3, he should now be able to understand this concept. Being responsible means choosing a birth control method to prevent pregnancy.
Educate About Reproduction Before Sex
Often the focus of these discussions is about sex. I want to change the dialogue to reproduction and talk about this process first. Once they are familiar with how a pregnancy can happen, they will appreciate that they are half of the equation of reproduction. That means they have an equal responsibility to make a safe and healthy choice.
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