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Early Romance and Dating

Early Romance and Dating


For the average teen, peer relationships and figuring out where they fit in are very important. Questions and concerns about self-esteem, self-worth and social acceptance are common. But what happens when you add a bleeding disorder to the mix?

This section will address the issues of dating, sex, and social interactions that develop during this time, and how to talk about it with the teen or pre-teen in your life.

What Teens and Pre-teens Are Thinking About

Teens and pre-teens are discovering who they are and where they fit in. This can be exciting in some moments and hard in others. For teens with bleeding disorders, their condition can add an extra dimension to any concerns. Their bleeding disorder may make them feel different. They may be worried about dating and needing to decide whether or not to disclose their bleeding disorder. Teens and pre-teens often have to educate others and dispel misconceptions about their illness.

For young men with a bleeding disorder, the process of becoming sexually mature may bring up concerns about sexual activity or masturbation causing a bleed. Young women may have the same concerns, and those with heavy periods may experience additional anxiety around managing their period. Open communication and accurate information from parents and trusted adults can help teens make appropriate decisions and feel comfortable with their bodies. For more information about common questions teens and young adults may have about sex and dating, check out this video.


Talking to Your Teen or Pre-teen

Young people need information and guidance from parents or trusted adults to help educate them to make healthy and appropriate decisions, including their sexual behavior. Sex education via the internet, the media, or peers can be inaccurate, inappropriate, and confusing. While talking about sex can be uncomfortable for both parents and kids, it is important. Learning about sexuality is a normal part of child development, and answering a child or adolescent’s questions in an honest, age-appropriate way is the best strategy. There are resources out there that break down how to talk to your kids about sex in age-appropriate ways, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics’, that has articles on talking to a preschooler, school aged child, and teen.

Children and teens are naturally curious about sex, and it’s important to guide that curiosity so they get accurate information. While it is important to discuss the responsibilities and possible consequences that come with being sexually active, including pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), it is important for kids and teens to understand it is okay to be curious about sex, that there are positive expressions of sexual feelings, and to feel agency and ownership of their bodies.

Some of the topics you may consider discussing with your teen are:

  • masturbation
  • menstruation
  • sexting
  • pornography
  • contraception
  • pregnancy
  • sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • body image
  • acceptance from their peers
  • consent
  • how their bleeding disorder can affect relationships and sex

Learn more about questions teens are wondering about when it comes to sex and dating.

Tips on Having “The Talk”

Before you have a conversation with your child, explore your own feelings about sex, including any potential awkwardness, embarrassment or shame. This can affect how you have these important conversations with your kids. Children and teens look to their parents or trusted adults to see how they view sex and sexual behavior, so it is important to be aware of your own feelings and judgements around these subjects. It is also helpful to think about beliefs and values you hold around sex and what, if any, you would like to relay. 

Learning about sex does not usually occur in a single conversation. It is an unfolding process, one in which kids learn what they need to know over a period of time. Questions can be answered as they arise so that a child’s natural curiosity is satisfied as they mature.

Tips for talking with your child about sex:

  • Encourage your child to talk to you and ask questions. Let them know they can always speak with the hemophilia treatment center (HTC) team, too, and that those conversations can be confidential.
  • Try to determine your child’s level of knowledge so that you can use words your child will understand.
  • Help your child understand his or her bleeding disorder in relation to sexuality and the effects puberty can have on his or her body.
  • Remain calm and noncritical when talking with your child.
  • Avoid euphemisms or slang terms for sex and body parts.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Don’t be afraid to talk about your own discomfort.
  • Share your values and concerns.
  • Discuss the importance of responsibility for choices and decisions.
  • A conversation about sex may be planned, but also don’t hesitate to take advantage of teachable moments that arise during everyday life, whether it be an ad on tv, a scene from movie or a question they ask that sparks conversation.
  • Find age-appropriate books about sex and developmental changes through adolescence for your child or teen to read to help start the conversation
  • When it comes to talking with your child or adolescent about sex, intimacy and relationships, your child’s HTC can be a great resource for both you and your child. Ask the social worker or nurse for information on how to talk to your child about sex, as well as the appropriate information to share at each age.
Open, honest, and ongoing communications about sex, responsibility, and choice can help children learn about sex in a healthy and positive way