Being a teenager is definitely not easy. As a teen, you will make some of the biggest decisions of your life. Dating. Relationships. Finishing High School. Going to college. Getting a job. Sex.
There it is. The word that makes parents cringe and health teachers blush. Sex. There is more to know about it than just the intercourse. Do you know your birth control options? Do you understand how to prevent sexually transmitted infections? Are you even ready to begin thinking about sex, let alone about what happens if you do get pregnant?
There is a lot to learn before you make the decision to have sex. Take control of your sexual health by getting the facts so you can make the right decisions for you.
a. Fast Facts
• More than one million teens become pregnant each year.
• Babies of young teen mothers are more likely to be born with serious health problems.
• Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may cause some extreme pain.
• STDs/STIs may cause sterility (being unable to have children in the future). Some are also incurable and may even cause death.
• A girl can get pregnant even if she is on her period.
• Abstinence (not having sex) is the only method of birth control that is 100 percent effective.
• A girl can get pregnant even if a boy doesn’t ejaculate or “cum” inside her.
• Every year, three million teenagers get a sexually transmitted infection.
• Teenagers can be treated for sexually transmitted infections without their parents’ permission.
• Adolescents aged 13 to 19 have the highest rate of sexually transmitted infections (chlamydia, genital herpes/warts, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, syphilis) of any age group.
• More than 2.7 million teenagers use contraceptives, and more than 1 million rely on the birth control pill.
• More than one-third of teenage girls choose condoms as their primary method of contraceptives.
• A girl can get pregnant the first time she has sex.
Source: Wise Guys Male Responsibility Curriculum, Family Life Council of Greater Greensboro, Inc., Greensboro, NC, 1999.
b. Am I ready to have sex?
e. Do my parents need to know? It can be uncomfortable to talk with your parents about sex. While we encourage you to talk with your family about your sexual health, your visit to any of IFHC’s Family Planning Resources is confidential and private. It is your decision to involve your parents or other family members.
i. Understanding peer pressure
If you have felt pressured into acting or dressing a certain way or doing things you don’t really want to do in order to be accepted, you are feeling Peer Pressure.
The pressure to fit it doesn’t just come from your friends. You also can feel social pressure from trying to live up to the people you see on television shows and in movies. From lyrics in songs and characters in books. Even the commercials on TV have an effect on how we think we should be living. Many of the current television shows, movies and songs glamorize a life with lots of money, partying, sex and drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Many teens are having sex because they think:
• It makes me popular
• I’m a part of the in-crowd
• I need it to be a man/be a woman
• Everybody’s doing it
• Sex is fun
• If it feels good, do it
What the media doesn’t always show is the effects of trying to live up to this lifestyle. When you have sex, there is always a chance of contracting an STD or getting pregnant. Both can change your life.
Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something you’re not ready to do. Instead of getting caught up in living the life you see on TV or the life someone tells you is so great, educate yourself so that you can make the right choices for yourself and your future family. While it can be uncomfortable discussing these topics, talk to your parents. Talk to your partner. You also can talk with a Family Planning Resource nurse. Our professionals will keep your questions and your decisions confidential.
j. Healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Everyone deserves to be in a healthy and loving relationship. But how do you know if your relationship is healthy, especially when it comes to sex? Here are some questions to help you decide.
• Can you say no when you don’t want to have sex?
• Have you had sex when you didn’t want to?
• Have you ever been forced to have sex?
• Have you ever had sex with someone because you felt pressured?
• Have you been told that your boyfriend/girlfriend would break up with you if you didn’t have sex?
In a healthy relationship, both people can talk about and should agree to sexual activity and other interactions. If you answered yes to ANY of the questions above, you may be in an unhealthy relationship, one that is harmful to your emotional, mental and physical health. Please talk to one of our professional staff at a Family Planning Resource to get more information about the dangers of an unhealthy relationship, especially if you have been threatened or abused.