You hear about teen pregnancy in movies, in the news, at school, on MTV, and from your parents. You know it’s not a good idea to have a baby before you’re ready, so why are so many teens still getting pregnant every year? And what can you do about it?
Know the Facts
Babies are great—they’re cute and cuddly and they love you. But they’re also needy and selfish—they want all your time and attention and they want it NOW. Be honest—there are a million things you’d rather be doing than changing a diaper, right? So if you decide to have sex, have you considered the consequences of getting pregnant/ causing a pregnancy? Weirdly enough, almost 50% of teens have never thought about how a pregnancy would affect their lives even though having a baby could be one of the most life-changing things to happen to them. Consider this:
School comes second:
- Parenthood is the leading reason why teen girls drop out of school; after all, it’s really difficult to juggle homework and a baby. Less than half of teen mothers ever graduate from high school and fewer than 2% earn a college degree by age 30.
- Children of teen mothers do worse in school than those born to older parents—they are 50% more likely to repeat a grade, are less likely to complete high school than the children of older mothers, and have lower performance on standardized tests.
- About one-fourth of teen moms have a second child within 24 months of the first birth—which can further delay their ability to finish school or keep a job.
A baby won’t make him stay:
- You may think having a baby will make your relationship even stronger, but the fact is 8 out of 10 fathers don’t marry the mother of their child. It’s also true that these absent fathers pay less than $800 annually for child support, often because they are poor themselves and can’t afford legitimate support payments.
It’s hardest on the kids:
- More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager. In fact, two-thirds of families begun by a young, unmarried mother are poor.
- Children who live apart from their fathers are 5 times more likely to be poor than children with both parents at home.
- The daughters of young teen mothers are 3 times more likely to become teen mothers themselves.
- The sons of teen mothers are twice as likely to end up in prison.
Now you know why having a baby too early is a bad idea. So how do you prevent too early pregnancy?
Have a Plan
Start by thinking it through carefully yourself. Are you ready to have sex? Are you going to wait? Though there are a variety of ways to avoid pregnancy, they can be boiled down to two basic strategies:
- Delay Sex: Not having sex at all is the only 100% effective method of preventing pregnancy and STIs.
- Use Contraception: If you do choose to have sex, you need to make sure that you use protection correctly every single time you have sex. There are a variety of types of contraception, so do some research and figure out which method is right for you.
Whether you choose to have sex or not, it is important to be able to talk about it with your partner. Having direct conversations about sex can be difficult or embarrassing, but if you are confident about your facts and able to express openly how you feel it should be easier. So take some time to get informed and to think through what feels right for you. It may be helpful to talk these decisions over with a close friend, parent, doctor, or other trusted adult before you talk to your partner. When you are clear about your own feelings, it will be easier to communicate them to someone else. And don’t wait until you’re in the heat of the moment to make these decisions—having a plan means being prepared before you’re in the moment.
So you think teen pregnancy is a problem? Want to do something about it? There are organizations in many communities devoted to preventing teen pregnancy—they are affiliated with churches, synagogues, schools, independent clubs, non-profit organizations, health centers, and reproductive health organizations. Contact your local school board, faith leaders, youth groups, and others who are concerned about young people. You can also talk to parents and teens and educate them about the consequences of unprotected sex and teen pregnancy. In fact, one of the most important things anyone can do is to make sure parents and teens talk about these issues and know the facts.
If You’re Already a Teen Parent
If you’re already a teen parent, all the stuff on this page might sound like it’s meant to hurt your feelings. We know that our message might unintentionally offend teen parents and we hope that you don’t take what we’re saying here the wrong way. While your experiences as a teen parent may be very positive, we know that the majority of teen moms and dads have an incredibly difficult road ahead for themselves and for their children. We are by no means trying to insult you as a teen parent or make you feel like you’ve made a bad choice, but are instead hoping to help all teens realize the consequences of having children too early.
We know that you love your family very much and are working hard to support them while still doing all those things that make being a teen fun. Best of luck to you and your family!
Sometimes it seems like everyone is doing it…especially if you’re not. But less than half of teens in high school (only 42% of girls and 43% of boys) have had sex. That means that more than half of all high school students are virgins. And the younger someone is, the more likely they’re a virgin. For example, less than one-third of teenagers age 17 and younger have had sex, while 60% of 18- and 19- year-olds have.
It’s okay not to have sex. In fact, not having sex is a great idea, especially if you want to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Of course there are all kinds of birth control methods that—when used carefully, correctly, and consistently—can protect you against pregnancy and decrease the risk of STIs. But not having sex is the only 100% proven method for avoiding pregnancy and STIs.
And while birth control can help protect your body, it can’t protect your feelings—and feelings are a big part of what can change when you have sex with someone. That’s one of the reasons that the majority of teens who have had sex say they wish they had waited longer…and we don’t just mean that they waited for marriage—just that they waited longer to get to know their partner or to be sure that they were ready to have sex in the first place.
Even though movies and TV and gossip at school can make it seems like everyone is having sex (or wants to), that’s not exactly true. In a recent survey of guys ages 15-18:
- 75% said they’d rather “wait to lose their virginity with someone they love,” compared to 24% who said they would prefer to “lose their virginity as soon as possible.”
- 66% said they would rather “have a girlfriend but NOT have sex” while just 34% said they would prefer “having sex but not have a girlfriend.”
- 68% said they “could be happy in a serious relationship that doesn’t include sex.”
And that’s not all. Even though girls often say they feel pressure from guys to go farther or do more than they want to, 85% of guys ages 15-18 say they have “more respect for girls who stop a hook-up if they aren’t ready or comfortable.” And 80% of teen guys say they think there is “way too much pressure from society to have sex.”
Sex can be complicated and confusing. That’s one of the reasons why three-quarters of teens—both guys and girls—say it’s not embarrassing to admit that they’re virgins. After all, good relationships are built on trust, communication, commitment, and spending time together enjoying things other than sex.
There are lots of reasons not to have sex besides not wanting to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant (although that’s a pretty good reason, too). Here are some of the most common reasons teens give for waiting:
- I’m waiting for the right guy or girl.
- I’ve got better things to do with my time.
- It’s against my religious beliefs.
- I think sex is something special that should be saved until you are married.
- I’m worried about my reputation. I don’t want everybody to think I’m a slut.
- I don’t want to catch an STI.
- I want to make sure I’m in a lasting relationship first.
- I just don’t feel like I’m ready yet.
The Low Down on STIs
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—the name pretty much says it all…they are infections that you catch through sexual contact. There’s a lot of different ones and their treatment, symptoms, and severity depend on which STI you’re talking about. The bottom line, though? You don’t want to get any of these. The surest way to avoid STIs is to avoid having sex. If you are having sex, though, make sure you’re using birth control that protects against STIs each and every single time you have sex.
In case you haven’t heard:
- STIs can affect anyone—women and men of all ages and racial and ethnic backgrounds. Teens and young adults get STIs more often than any other age group. About 3 million teens get STIs every year; that means about one-quarter of sexually active teens gets an STI every year.
- You can get an STI by having any kind of sex, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Some types of STIs can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact or even just plain old kissing. This means that it’s super important to know your partner before being intimate with them.
- It is often impossible to tell if someone has an STI. Sometimes STIs have symptoms that people can see or feel. But sometimes they don’t. Even if you can’t see signs of infection, STIs can still be passed to another person. Also, some people confuse symptoms related to certain STIs with something more harmless like a common yeast infection (which is not an STI).
- Some STIs can be treated and will go away, but others can’t be cured. In these incurable cases, you can only try to suppress the symptoms and manage the condition. Left untreated, some STIs can lead to serious health complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease, organ damage, infertility, cervical cancer, or even death. If you think you have a problem, you need to see your doctor right away.
Reduce the Risk
There are lots of ways to reduce your risk of getting an STI. The most foolproof way to avoid STIs—not to mention unplanned pregnancy—is to not have sex at all. If you are having sex, though, there are other ways to reduce your risk.
- Start Talking: Talk with your partner(s) about STIs, their sexual history, and how to avoid risks before you have sex. Open communication encourages trust and respect among partners and helps reduce the risks for STIs. Plus, it’s the perfect time to figure out what kind of birth control you’re going to use…that way, you’re not waiting until you’re in the heat of the moment.
- Practice Safer Sex: Condoms—both the male and female variety—work really well at stopping the spread of most STIs when they are used consistently and correctly every single time a person has sex. Lots of people don’t know how to use a condom correctly, which can make them more susceptible to STIs. Make sure you know how to use a condom. Also, be aware that condoms made from lambskin—also known as “natural condoms”—don’t protect against STIs.
- Be Prepared: Part of making good decisions about sex is being prepared for any situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a girl, if you’re going to have sex with someone (or just think you might) you should be ready. Have condoms with you and be sure that the person you’re with has been tested and is STI-free.
- Get Tested: Testing can help you learn whether you or your partner(s) have an STI. Many STIs don’t have obvious physical symptoms, so you can’t just assume that neither of you has an STI—just because someone looks clean and healthy doesn’t mean that they are. Also, some STIs may not be detectable through testing for a few weeks—or even months—so you should talk to your health care provider about the right time to get tested.
- Limit Your Sexual Partners: If you are going to have sex, have it with just one person and make sure you know his or her sexual history. The fewer partners you have, the less chance you’ll get an STI.
- Avoid alcohol and drug use: If you’re drunk or high, it’s hard to make good decisions about sex—lots of teens say they’ve done something when using drugs or alcohol that they might not have done if they were sober. Avoiding alcohol and drug use reduces the risk of contracting an STI, getting pregnant, or being coerced into having sex.
Types of STIs
Here are some common STIs that should be on your radar screen:
- Chlamydia: Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is passed during sexual contact and can infect the penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra, eye, or throat. The good news? Chlamydia can easily be cured with antibiotics. The bad news? Many teens don’t know they have it because it usually has no symptoms. If left untreated, it can cause serious health problems. You can use condoms to reduce your risk of getting Chlamydia.
- Crabs: These little blood-sucking bugs (eww!) nest in pubic hair and cause a lot of itching. Gross right? No contraception on the market right now will protect you from crabs. You can get them just by touching or being close to someone who has them—even if you don’t have sex! They can actually jump from one person’s pubic hair to another’s and you can also can get them by sleeping in a bed, wearing clothes, or sitting on a toilet seat that crabs have infected. Totally treatable, but totally gross.
- Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea—a.k.a “the clap”—is caused by bacteria that grows and multiplies easily in the warm, moist areas of your body, including the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, urethra, anus, mouth, throat, and eyes. Gonorrhea is pretty serious; if it isn’t treated, it can lead to sterility, arthritis, ectopic pregnancy, and heart problems. Yikes. More than 600,000 new cases of gonorrhea are reported every year in the U.S. but the good news is that Gonorrhea is easy to treat with antibiotics. Condoms help protect against gonorrhea.
- Herpes: Herpes is a very common infection caused by two types of viruses that can affect your mouth (oral herpes) or genitals (genital herpes). Herpes is very easy to catch and can spread through touching, kissing, and/or sex with an infected person. Brief skin-to-skin contact is all that’s needed to pass the virus and there’s no cure for it—once you have it, you’ll have it forever (although there are some treatments out there to help you manage your symptoms). The most common symptom of genital herpes is a cluster of blistery sores but there are actually millions of people who do not know they have herpes because they’ve never had the symptoms. It’s crucial that, if you’re going to have sex, you know your partner’s history and use condoms every time you have sex (condoms can help prevent the spread of the disease).
- HIV/AIDS: HIV is passed to sex partners through blood, semen, seminal fluid (pre-cum), and vaginal fluids. You can get HIV from direct contact, like having vaginal, anal, or oral sex, or sharing injection drug needles and syringes. Sometimes there are no signs of HIV at first—you might not know for sure that you’ve been infected until you get a blood test. Also, many people with HIV look healthy, but they can still transmit HIV. There is no cure, but treatments can help people with HIV/AIDS live for many years. Condoms offer protection against HIV, which is most often spread through unprotected sex.
- HPV/Genital warts: HPV—the human papilloma virus—affects millions of teens and is spread by skin-to-skin contact, usually during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. A few types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer and other genital cancers and a few types can lead to genital warts. There is currently no treatment to cure HPV itself. Fortunately, there’s an HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer and the types that cause most cases of genital warts. The vaccine is most effective if you get it before you become sexually active.
- Syphilis: Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria that is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore. Sores occur mainly on the genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Sores can also occur on the lips and in the mouth. Syphilis is especially contagious in the early stages of the disease, when sores are present. Even though it is curable with antibiotics, if syphilis isn’t treated, it can cause serious damage to your brain, heart, nervous system, and eventually lead to death.
Dating abuse might not be something that everybody talks about, but that doesn’t mean that it’s uncommon. Consider this:
- 1 in 4 teen girls say they have been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.
- 1 in 4 teens who have been in a serious relationship say that a boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family; the same number have been pressured to only spend time with their partner.
- Half of teen girls who have experienced sexual pressure report they are afraid the relationship would end if they did not give in.
- Nearly 1 in 4 girls who have been in a relationship (23%) reported going further sexually than they wanted as a result of pressure.
Know the Signs
Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize abuse for what it is. Relationships are full of powerful—and sometimes overwhelming—emotions and it can be tough to take a step back and evaluate the situation. You may not have a black eye, but that doesn’t mean your partner hasn’t been abusive to you. Dating abuse comes in a lot of different forms, and doesn’t always leave marks visible to the eye. So how can you tell if you (or a friend) are a victim of dating abuse? It might help to understand the issue a little better and know some of the warning signs.
People can experience several different types of abuse. These can include:
- Physical abuse: any intentional use of physical force meant to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking, or using a weapon.
- Emotional abuse: non-physical behavior such as threats, insults, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or stalking.
- Sexual abuse: any action that forces undesired sexual behavior on you by another person. This includes making you do anything you don’t want to do sexually, refusing to have safe sex, aggressively pressuring you to go further than you want to sexually, or making you feel badly about yourself sexually.
Dating abuse isn’t always isolated to one type of abusive. For example, if your partner is physically abusive, it’s likely that they’re also mentally and emotionally abusive.
Not sure if you’re in an unhealthy relationship? Take a step back and ask yourself: Does your boyfriend or girlfriend…
- Pressure you to make the relationship very serious or have sex early in the relationship/ before you’re ready?
- Act jealous or possessive?
- Try to control where you go, what you wear, or what you do?
- Text or IM you constantly? Harass you online?
- Refuse to consider your point of view or desires?
- Keep you from talking to or spending time with close friends or family?
- Drink too much or use drugs and then blame the alcohol and drugs for his/her behavior
- Threaten to hurt you or themselves if you leave them?
These are just a few questions you might ask yourself. Simply put, if your partner has said or done something that seemed like a red flag, it probably was. It could become, or may already be, abusive and it’s time to put a stop to it. Keep reading for tips on how to get help.
If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse, seek help. You are not alone . Talk to your parents, a teacher, or another adult you can trust.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions we get here at Stay Teen.
There’s no perfect moment when you’ll suddenly know that you’re ready for sex. Sex is a complicated and personal decision so it’s all about knowing what’s best for you. No one else can tell you when you’re ready but here are a few things you should consider:
- Are you doing this because YOU want to? Or are you thinking about having sex because someone else wants you to? Maybe you’re not sure you’re ready, but your partner is putting on the pressure? Or maybe all your friends seem to be having sex, so you feel you should be too? Having sex because someone else is pressuring you is not a good reason. Remember, you’re in charge of your own life—don’t let anyone pressure you into having sex.
- Have you seriously considered the consequences of having sex? Obviously, sex can have some serious physical consequences, such as unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you’re going to have sex, you need to think about birth control options and choose a method that will work for you. But sex is more than just the physical stuff. Have you considered the emotional consequences that sex might have on you, your partner, and your relationship? Having sex with someone takes things to a whole new level—are you and your partner ready for that? Have you talked about it? If you’re not sure that you’re ready or you haven’t talked with your partner (or are too embarrassed to), it might be a good idea to wait.
- Are you and your partner on the same page? You can’t expect to understand what your partner is thinking or expect them to understand what you’re thinking if you aren’t talking about it. You’ve got to talk with your partner about how they feel about sex, what each of you are comfortable doing, and what each of you will do to prevent pregnancy and STIs. If you can’t talk about sex with your partner, then you’re probably not ready to have it. It’s as simple as that.
- Do you know how to have protect yourself? It’s really important that you know how to protect against pregnancy and STIs. If you’re going to have sex, you have to use birth control consistently and correctly every single time you have sex in order to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STIs. Remember: if you’re having sex and not using birth control, you’re planning to get pregnant. Again, this is something you need to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about before you have sex so you’re both okay about what you’re going to use.
The decision to have sex is a BIG one. If you feel comfortable with the situation and have had an open and sincere conversation about sex with your partner, maybe you are ready. But if you aren’t totally comfortable with the decision, then you probably aren’t. It might help to talk to someone you trust about the pros and cons of the situation. Even if it seems tough, try talking to your parents and getting their advice. Or try another trusted adult, older sibling, or responsible friend who is willing to talk to you.
Well, the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex. But if you’re going to have sex then you need to make sure you use protection carefully, consistently, and correctly EVERY SINGLE TIME. There are lots of methods of contraception available, talk to a health care professional to find the method that’s right for you. Remember that only condoms (female and male) will protect you from STIs.
If you think you might be pregnant, the first thing to do is find out for sure. You can take a home pregnancy test from the drugstore, but the best option is to make an appointment with a health care professional. They can not only tell you whether or not you’re pregnant, but they can counsel you on what to do if you are and how to avoid pregnancy in the future if you’re not. And keep this in mind: the sooner you know, the better off you’ll be. Don’t wait to see a doctor because you’re scared of what you’ll find out.
Find an adult you love and trust—your parents or someone else who loves you and has your best interests in mind. This isn’t something you should face alone. You also need to see a doctor or other health care professional as soon as possible to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy. One thing you absolutely cannot do is ignore the fact that you are pregnant. So find someone to talk to and get their help; then contact a health care professional
5. Can you really get pregnant or get someone pregnant the first time you have sex or if you only have sex with someone once?
Yes, you can. Every single time you have sex there is a chance that you can get pregnant/cause a pregnancy. The first time and every time. The only 100% foolproof way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex in the first place. If you are having sex, it’s important that you use protection each and every time you have sex. No exceptions.Talk to a health care professional to find the method that’s right for you.
Yes, it’s possible for condoms to break but that’s not very common if you’re using them correctly. For example, you have to make sure that when you open the package you don’t damage the condom with your teeth or fingernails, you have to roll the condom on right side up (yes—you CAN put condoms on inside out!) making sure that there’s no air trapped inside, and you have to leave a little space at the tip. You also have to make sure you’re not using expired condoms or lube that will break down the latex (petroleum jelly is a big no-no). If the condom breaks, you can get Emergency Contraception (aka “EC”; there are a few different types of EC. This medication has the same hormones found in birth control pills and it interferes with the fertilization process. It is NOT meant to be used as regular contraception—hence the name “emergency.”
The pill is a prescription-only method of birth control, meaning that you can’t just go into a store and buy a pack like you can with condoms. You’ll have to see a health care professional to get a prescription; if you’re not comfortable going to your doctor, or you’re concerned that your parents will find out, there are health clinics you can visit that don’t require a parent’s consent. Once you have a prescription, you take it to a pharmacy to be filled, just like for any other medication.
Don’t give up! There are nearly 50 different brands of pills and chances are there is one that will work for you. And if the pill isn’t right for you, there are many other options. Remember: if you’re starting a new pill or are “between” contraceptive methods, either don’t have sex at all or use a back up method of birth control. Talk to your health care provider for help finding the birth control method that’s right for you.
No. If you are sexually active and not using protection, you have an 85% chance of getting pregnant within one year. Just because it hasn’t happened yet is no guarantee that it won’t. If you’re in doubt, get checked out by a health care professional, and use that as an opportunity to talk about the best birth control method for you. Unless you are actively trying to prevent a pregnancy, chances are good that you’ll get pregnant. The only 100% way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex. If you are having sex, use some kind of birth control each and every time you have sex. No exceptions.
Remember, it’s all about timing: preventing pregnancy now can help you be the best parent you can be later in life, when you’re emotionally and financially ready. Most teen moms say they love their children but wish they’d waited 10 years to have them. Babies are wonderful, but they need and deserve adult parents who are willing and able to do the demanding and lifelong work of raising a child. Babies require unconditional love 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They give a lot of love back, but they depend on you for everything.
Having a baby often leads to a lot of problems in a relationship—it usually won’t strengthen a relationship and doesn’t necessarily lead to marriage. In fact, 8 out of 10 fathers never marry the teen mothers of their babies. Raising a child is hard. Raising a child alone is even harder. Being a teenager is a great time for growing up, getting an education, meeting new people, and having fun–not pregnancy and parenthood.
Myth versus Fact
Think you’re in-the-know about sex and can weed out fact from fiction? Put your knowledge to the test because we’re about to separate fact from fiction and put some sex myths to bed. Here are some of the most popular myths we’ve heard about sex, including a few submitted by Stay Teen readers.
REALITY: Don’t believe everything you hear…it may seem like everyone’s doing it, but in reality, less than half (48%) of all high school students have ever had sex. People lie and exaggerate and can talk a good game when it comes to sex. But in the end, it doesn’t matter who’s telling the truth or not. The only truth that matters is what’s best for you.
MYTH: You’re a prude if you want to wait until you’re older.
REALITY: Actually, you’re being pretty smart. Every person is unique and many teens decide to wait to have sex. There’s a right time for each individual and each person has to decide for him or herself when that is. The truth is that most teens who have had sex say they wish they had waited longer and the younger teens are when they first have sex, the more likely they are to regret it—and the less likely they are to use protection.
MYTH: Guys are always ready for sex.
REALITY: Guys may have a reputation for always thinking about sex, but, just like all stereotypes, that’s not necessarily true. Think about it—you may love playing soccer, but sometimes, you’d just rather go to the movies. In fact, 2 out of 3 guys say they’d rather have a relationship but no sex—how’s that for busting this myth?!
MYTH: Girls never pressure guys to have sex—pressure always comes from guys.
REALITY: Again, there’s that stereotyping thing causing lots of trouble. Every person, and every combination of people, is different. Pressure can come from anyone, regardless of gender, sexual experience, or age. 1 in 5 guys say they’ve been pressured by a girl to go further sexually than they wanted to.
MYTH: You’ll marry the first person you have sex with.
REALITY: Sadly, this one is rarely true. Even though your first love or the first person you have sex with feels like the one you’ll love forever, the reality is that most first time sexual relationships are romantic but short-lived. 8 out of 10 first time teen sexual relationships last 6 months or less and one-quarter are one-time occurrences.
MYTH: Drinking and drugs make sex much more fun.
REALITY: If you’re drunk or high, it’s hard to make good decisions about sex. 20% of 15- to 17-year-olds say they have done something sexual while using alcohol or drugs that they might not have done if they were sober. It might seem fun to have your inhibitions washed away by alcohol or drugs, but that also means you’re less likely to practice safe sex and could end up with something much worse than a hangover: a sexually transmitted infection(STI) or an unplanned pregnancy. People are also much more likely to be victims of rape and assault when substance use/ abuse mix with sexual activity.
MYTH: You can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex.
REALITY: If you are ovulating it doesn’t matter if it’s the first time or the hundredth time you’ve had sex, you can still get pregnant. You get pregnant when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Neither the sperm nor the egg care how many times you’ve had sex previously. The only way to avoid the risk of pregnancy is to not have sex at all.
MYTH: Girls can’t get pregnant during their period.
REALITY: There is a chance that you can get pregnant if you have sex during your period. Once in the vagina, sperm can stay alive for several days—that means that, even if the last time you had sex was three days ago during your period, you could now be ovulating and therefore you could get pregnant. It’s kind of complicated, so just remember this: ANY time you have sex you can get pregnant, so always use protection.
MYTH: You can’t get pregnant if you’ve never had a period.
REALITY: You may ovulate 14 days before your first period so it is possible to get pregnant even if you haven’t had a period yet.
MYTH: A girl can’t get pregnant/ a guy can’t get a girl pregnant if:
- you have sex standing up;
- the girl is on top;
- you have sex in a hot tub or a swimming pool;
- you jump up and down immediately after sex;
- the girl douches, takes a bath, or urinates immediately after sex;
- it’s your first time;
- you’re both virgins;
- the guy pulls out before he ejaculates or if he doesn’t go all the way in;
- the girl doesn’t have an orgasm;
- the guy and the girl don’t orgasm at the same time;
- the girl pushes really hard on her belly button after sex; or
- the girl makes herself sneeze for fifteen minutes after sex.
REALITY: We’re sure you’ve heard some of these whoppers, or maybe some even weirder ones. Forget who you’ve heard them from or how many times you’ve heard them. The truth is, you can get pregnant any time you have sex (unless, of course, you’re already pregnant, which means you’ve got other things to worry about). Even if you use a condom or another form of birth control, you can still get pregnant. The only 100% way to prevent pregnancy is by NOT having sex. So if you choose to have sex, regardless of when and how, know what you might be getting yourself into. Check out our list of birth control options to learn more about the best method for you.
MYTH: There’s no method of birth control that’s 100% effective.
REALITY: Not having sex is a form of birth control and it is definitely 100% effective. If you aren’t having sex, you can’t get pregnant or get someone else pregnant. It’s just that simple.
MYTH: Drinking Mountain Dew will prevent pregnancy.
REALITY: The rumor that ingredients in Mountain Dew (and other popular sodas) lower guys’ sperm count has been around for years, but the simple truth is that Doing the Dew doesn’t do anything to sperm. Drinking soda isn’t going to do anything but maybe give you a cavity.
MYTH: Condoms can be reused.
REALITY: Gross. Once a condom has been removed from its wrapper, you have to use it or lose it. And once a condom has been used during sex, it is no longer good—throw it away! Learn more about condoms in our
MYTH: Girls can use a friend or sister’s birth control pills—what’s the difference, right?
REALITY: Wrong. Prescriptions have specific names on them for a reason: because they’re for specific people. You can’t use someone else’s birth control for a number of reasons, namely, because it isn’t prescribed to you.
MYTH: Guys can use plastic wrap if they don’t have a condom.
REALITY: Plastic wrap, baggies, etc, are great for food storage, but are NOT viable alternatives to condoms. Common household products will not protect you from pregnancy or STIs. Your best bet is to get out your wallet and buy some condoms. Condoms are specifically made to provide a good fit and good protection during sex, and they are thoroughly tested for maximum effectiveness.
MYTH: A girl only takes birth control pills right before she’s going to have sex.
REALITY: Birth control pills are made up of a series of hormones that must build up in your body to be effective. The pills are meant to be taken in a specific order at about the same time every day. When you skip a day or skip a non-placebo pill, it’ll alter the effectiveness of the birth control. ‘
MYTH: The pill is completely effective the first day you begin taking it.
REALITY: Unfortunately, it can take up to one full month (or one full menstrual cycle) for the pill to become completely effective. Doctors most often recommend using a second form of contraception (like condoms) during the first few weeks that you’re on the pill.