Help! I'm 15, but my parents still stay in the exam room and answer questions when I'm at the doctor's. I want to ask about STDs, but I can't do it with them sitting there. How can I get them to leave?
Omar*

Most teens don't want to talk to their doctors about topics like sex and STDs with their parents in the room. Many docs talk alone with their teen patients, especially about sensitive topics. But others don't.

Call ahead and ask if your doctor usually talks to the teens alone. If so, you can just follow the doctor's lead. Most doctors will say something like, "I like to talk to my teens alone so they can start taking a role in their health care and be comfortable asking any questions." Most parents agree right away. They may even be relieved that you have a place to get reliable information.

But what if you don't know if your doctor will suggest you talk alone? What can you do to make sure you get the private time you want?

Talk to your parents before the appointment. Tell them you want to start learning how to take charge of your own health care, so you'd like some private time with the doctor. If you want to be more specific, you could say, "I am embarrassed talking in front of you about how my body is changing." Or, "I have questions about topics that might come up in the future, like sex, and I want to be comfortable asking the doctor." You might be surprised when your parent agrees and sees the request as a sign of your growing independence and responsibility.

Let the doctor know you want some private time. If you didn't call ahead, you can tell the nurse that checks you into a room. This way the doctor knows that you want to have time at the appointment without your parents.

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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