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Researchers to parents: The sex talk works
As parents, its a conversation that is easy to avoid and uncomfortable to even think about, but its one that needs to happen. - photo by Jessica Ivins
As parents, its a conversation that is easy to avoid and uncomfortable to even think about, but its one that needs to happen.

Yep, its the sex talk. Turns out, it works, according to a new study out of North Carolina State University, Raleigh.

For the study, researchers reviewed data and literature from the past 30 years on the effect of parents talking with their adolescents about sex. The research which involved 52 articles and 25,000 youths revealed a small but significant relationship between open communication and safer sex behavior, according to the study.

We found this overall effect that teens that talk with their parents about safer sex topics like condoms and STDs were more likely to use protection than teens that didnt have these conversations, psychologist and lead study author Laura Widman told NBC News.

The association was particularly strong among girls, as well as adolescents whose mothers led the sex talk, according to the study. Girls who discussed safe sex with their parents were more likely to take the necessary precautions than boys.

The point is, Widman says, the conversation needs to happen.

Starting this conversation, no matter how awkward and uncomfortable and embarrassing it might be your kid will listen, she said.

While the positive correlation was small, it was significant and shouldnt be ignored, Widman said. Additionally, researchers didnt find any evidence that talking to your kids about sex made things worse which is often one of the reasons parents avoid the topic altogether.

Its a topic that remains relevant, so anything helps. The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control revealed 47 percent of U.S. high school-aged teens have had sex. A whopping 41 percent of teens who said theyd had sex in the last three months did not use a condom.

While nearly 10,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 24 were diagnosed with HIV in 2013, only 22 percent of sexually experienced students surveyed said theyd been tested for HIV, according to the CDC.

On top of that, 600,000 teen pregnancies are reported in the U.S. each year.

Talking with your kids about sex and protection matters, Widman said.

The study was published in journal JAMA Pediatrics.