Parents often feel that having ‘the talk’ with their child is a rite of passage, signifying a dramatic shift in their child’s understanding of sex and babies beyond the age-old ‘stork-on-the-doorstep’ anecdote. Indeed, 82% of parents have talked to their children about topics related to sexuality, but only 43% of parents say they actually feel comfortable having these conversations—yikes! So, when do you start that conversation? What level of detail do you provide? How do you answer the first time your child asks, ‘Where do babies come from?’ If you have all these questions (and more), you are not alone!  It is imperative for parents to feel comfortable and confident with the information they’re passing along to their children so that they may make well-informed choices that impact their future sexual and reproductive health.

Dr. Teresa Woodruff, Vice Chair for Research in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University, created “Introduction to Reproduction,” a free online class to teach basic concepts in sexual and reproductive health. This is a crash-course in all things reproduction, and it can help you get your bearings as you start to navigate these types of conversations with your children. You already know about ‘the birds and the bees,’ but do you know the biology behind reproduction? This course approaches reproduction from a biological lens, making the topic more approachable and not as ‘taboo’ as it is often portrayed in popular culture. “The best feature of this course,” explains Dr. Woodruff, “is that it is coupled with an online lexicon, the Repropedia, which defines reproductive terms in lay-language, so you’ll never have to Google words like ‘penis’ or ‘fallopian tube’ or ‘vagina,’ which could take you to confusing or unsavory webpages.” All the information you need is in one place, from a trustworthy source—and having accurate and reliable reproductive health information is becoming increasingly important in the United States.

There is currently no required standard for sex education in this country’s schooling system, and of the 22 states that have mandated sex education instruction, only 13 require this instruction to be medically accurate! With 1 in 4 college students contracting STD’s and 42% of pregnancies resulting from inconsistent or incorrect contraceptive use, don’t you think your child should be armed with accurate sexual and reproductive health knowledge sooner, rather than later?

Introduction to Reproduction is comprised of a series of short 2-5 minute videos and can be completed at your own pace, on your own time, and in the comfort of your own home. “If you plan to talk to your child about sexual and reproductive health, you’re going to want this course in your back pocket,” says Dr. Woodruff. Reproductive health can be a complex topic convoluted with decades of misconceptions and unanswered questions; let’s get those questions answered and teach our children accurate sexual health information—a more informed future starts today.

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