I'm thinking about having sex. What do I need to know to stay healthy?
Before you make any decisions, or even if you already have had sex but are unsure if you should again, read on for some important information about how to stay healthy. (And remember, if anyone has ever forced you to have sex, this is WRONG and not your fault! Tell someone you trust as soon as possible.)
Not everyone is having sex. Half of all teens say "no" to sex. There's nothing wrong if you decide to wait. If you decide to wait, stick with your decision. Plan ahead how you are going to say "no" so that you are clearly understood. Stay away from situations that can lead to sex. Too many young people have sex without meaning to when they drink alcohol or use drugs. Not using alcohol and drugs will help you make clearer choices about sex.
If you decide to have sex, it's important that you know the facts about birth control, diseases, and emotions.
- Sex can lead to pregnancy. Are you ready to be pregnant or become a teen parent? It's a huge responsibility—will your baby have food, clothes, and a safe place to live?
- Sex has health risks. You could become infected with one or more sexually transmitted infections (STIs), like herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, syphilis, or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). One type of disease, called human papillomavirus (HPV), may cause cancer.
- You may feel sad or angry if you let someone pressure you into having sex when you're not really ready.
- You also may feel sad or angry if you chose to have sex and then your partner leaves you. Your partner may even tell other people that you had sex with him or her. Can you handle that?
If you don't want to get pregnant, you need a reliable form of birth control!
Condoms used the right way have a 90% chance of preventing pregnancy.
"The pill" is the most popular type of birth control used by women. There are many brands of the birth control pill. For the pill to work, a woman must take it every day. When used correctly, the pill is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
- The birth control patch is similar to the pill and looks like an adhesive strip. The patch is placed on the skin and changed every week for 3 weeks. Side effects are similar to the pill.
- Depo-Provera is a shot that you get every 3 months. It is a popular choice for women who have trouble remembering to take the pill.
To view a table of birth control methods and associated advantages/disadvantages, click here.
It's your choice!
The decision to become sexually active is yours. Choosing not to have sex is the only way to avoid all STIs and getting pregnant.
Talk with your pediatrician about birth control—how safe and effective these methods are, what side effects they can cause, and how much they cost.