Conversations with young patients about sex

Date Published: 
Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Cathy Stephenson discusses how to have conversations with our younger patients about sex.



  • 00:01 Intro
  • 01:33 are all young people having sex?
  • 03:09 what do young people think about sex
  • 04:47 howe safe are our young people?
  • 08:25 improving access for minority populations
  • 10:44 free access to clinics
  • 11:43 condom use is down
  • 13:02 unwanted pregnancy numbers
  • 14:13 sexualy transmitted infections in teens
  • 15:50 uptake of Gardasil vaccination
  • 17:33 opertunistic conversations
  • 18:40 online testing
  • 20:09 awareness of consent
  • 22:30 sexuality and gender identity
  • 24:27 sexual harm and risk factors
  • 27:59 conversational tips and tricks
  • 33:57 appropriate language
  • 35:45 being honest and professional, not cool
  • 36:56 Take-home messages


Take-home messages

  • Young people are delaying the onset of sexual activity compared with their counterparts over the last 20 yrs, but there has also been declining use in condoms over that time.
  • Teen pregnancy and abortion rates are dropping in this age group, but are still high compared to some other countries - improving access and availability of LARCs needs to be a focus
    STI testing needs to be normalised and free of judgment.
  • 9% of YP identify as same or multiple sex attracted, and 1 % identify as gender diverse - both these groups experience  higher  rates of mental distress, self harm, suicidality  and bullying.
  • YP need to be able to access Healthcare that is local, low cost, culturally responsive and meets their needs.
  • Most YP seek contraceptive and sexual health advice from primary care as opposed to family planning or school based services GPs are ideally placed to opportunistically initiate non judgmental affirmative educative  conversations about sex, as part of the HEADS model.





Cathy Stephenson
General Practitioner & Senior Clinical Lecturer

Cathy is a GP at Mauri Ora Student Health Service, Victoria University of Wellington, and a busy mum of three teenage children. Passionate about empowering young people to be the best they can be, her special areas of interest include sexual health, sexual assault, contraception, mental health and well-being, gender-affirming healthcare, and improving health for vulnerable communities.

She is A Senior Clinical Lecturer at Otago University on Sexual Violence and Partner Violence, and for years worked for MEDSAC and as a forensic medical examiner at Wellington’s sexual assault service.
Cathy is a health columnist, writing weekly columns for Stuff until 2020, and now authoring a Youth Health column for New Zealand Doctor.

More recently Cathy taken on the role of  Clinical Lead Southern at the RNZCGP. Most of her learning around youth health and wellbeing has come from conversations around the family dinner table with the wonderful young people in her life!

Recognition of Learning Activities

Complete and submit the learning reflection form for CPD/MOPS points provided by The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners below for recognition of learning activities.

Learning Reflection Form

This presentation is intended for qualified health practitioners professional development and should not be relied upon for any other purpose. Any opinions offered are those of the presenter or other speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of Goodfellow Unit.