Pregnancy and Protection
Protection – Love with Caution
Whoa! What was that that just went bouncing off the walls? Must have been your hormones raging out of control! It happens. Members of the opposite sex are looking better to you by the millisecond. You’re thinking about sex, aren’t you? Well, entering into a sexual relationship is a big step that can’t be taken lightly. And it’s your job to keep yourself safe. That doesn’t mean a sword and shield. It means using protection.
Caught in a Trap
However, a lot of teenagers fall into the trap of having unprotected sex. I know all the excuses: You’re “in the moment” and don’t have any condoms; you think sex with condoms feels different, and you don’t want to use them; you think having unprotected sex “just this once” won’t hurt. Lame excuses, every one of them. If you don’t practice safe sex, you can get a sexually transmitted disease (STD). And the kicker is: you can get an STD with unprotected anal sex or oral sex, too. Or you can get yourself or someone else pregnant. You ready for that? Didn’t think so.
For Real . . . How Does Pregnancy Happen?
Well, pregnancy doesn’t just “happen.” There are processes and functions and biological…well, let’s slow things down and look at it in simple terms. Pregnancy occurs when sperm from a man joins with an egg from a woman, which happens during sex.
The best way NOT to GET PREGNANT is NOT to HAVE SEX. Okay, so you and your boyfriend or girlfriend are getting close and you’re thinking about having sex. Even though you may feel awkward, YOU NEED TO HAVE THE TALK ABOUT S-E-X! If you’re close enough to have sex you should be close enough to talk about it and what to do about birth control, if you decide to have sex.
YOU ALWAYS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU OR SAY NO TO SEX!
Types of Birth Control (Contraception)
There are many different kinds of contraception. You can talk to your doctor about what’s right for you. Here’s a short list:
Abstinence First: The best form of birth control is to not have sex at all. But if you’ve talked about sex with your partner and have decided you’re ready, using condoms with another type of birth control is the safest thing to do. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you and your boyfriend or girlfriend. Don’t be shy. This is your life we’re talking about.
Condoms: The most common type of birth control. It’s put on the penis before sex. Some condoms are coated with a chemical to kill sperm if the condom breaks. It prevents pregnancy about 75-85% of the time. It’s the ONLY type of birth control that can prevent the spread of many STDs.
Oral contraceptive pills (birth control pills): Taken by a woman once a day and contain a small amount of hormones (body chemicals). Birth control pills prevent pregnancy more than 90% of the time. But you can only get birth control pills from your doctor. Birth control pills also do NOT prevent the spread of STDs, so it’s important to use a condom as well.
Intrauterine device (IUD): This is a piece of plastic shaped like a ‘T’ that a doctor inserts in a woman’s uterus. It prevents pregnancy 99% of the time. Like birth control pills, IUDs do NOT protect you against STDs. They’re also sometimes associated with infections of the uterus and can sometimes come out on their own.
Other Hormonal Release Products (shot, patch, vaginal ring): These work sort of like birth control pills. Each one releases a hormone that helps prevent pregnancy. Like birth control pills and IUDs, these products can have side effects and do NOT prevent the spread of sexually transmitted disease. Ask your doctor to explain these products.
How do I get supplies?
If you’re not sure where to get condoms or need more info on other types of birth control, see your doctor. A doctor’s visit is only between you and your doctor. What happens in your doctor’s office, stays in your doctor’s office.
The ABCs of STDs
Here’s the bad news: Sexually transmitted diseases are a big problem in teens. Around a million teens a year get gonorrhea, chlamydia or syphilis infections. Here’s the worse news: That number keeps going up every year.
Some STDs may seem harmless. A lot of times, they don’t have symptoms, especially in guys. That’s also why they’re so easy to spread. But untreated, STDs might mean some young women can’t ever have kids. STDs can also be painful, cause warts and even cancer. And here comes the worst news: STDs can even kill you. Remember, many STDs don’t have any symptoms, so you can’t tell if your partner has one or not. Your chances of getting an STD are higher if you have unprotected sex or have sex with many people. That’s why it’s really important to use condoms any time you have any type of sex.
But What If I . . .
If you’ve had unprotected sex, get yourself checked out for any STDs. Make sure you’re healthy. If you’re a girl, you should also get a pregnancy test at your doctor’s office. The sooner you know about any problems, the sooner something can be done about it.
See your doctor if you experience any of these . . . :
- Pain with urination. (peeing)
- Change in your urine.
- Change in vaginal discharge (fluid), especially if it’s green or yellow, appears frothy, or has a bad smell.
- Discharge from your penis.
- Belly pain.
HPV is the fancy schmancy word for human papillomavirus. Believe me you don’t want it. There are different kinds of HPV – some go away by themselves and some don’t. The HPV that doesn’t go away by itself can be dangerous to your health. They can even lead to cervical cancer in women.
There is a vaccine that teenagers can get that will protect you from most types of HPV that cause the cervical cancer and genital warts. If you are having sex you need to ask your doctor about the vaccine for HPV. Remember, protect yourself. It is your body and your life.