For Teens: Are You Really Ready for Sex?
Some things for teenage girls or young women to think about before they have sex. And take our "Are You Ready to Have Sex" test.
As a teenage girl or young woman, you may be thinking about what it means to be involved in a sexual relationship. Deciding to have a sexual relationship is a big deal since it involves both your body and your emotions. You need to make sure that it is the right decision for you. There are many things that you need to think about before you decide to have sex, including whether this is the right person, the right time in your life, and how you will feel if the relationship breaks up. If you do decide to have sex, you definitely need to first think about how to prevent getting pregnant, and how to protect yourself from getting a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).
You should talk to your parents, guardian, a trusted adult, or your health care provider if you are thinking about having a sexual relationship. It is a good idea to discuss all of your choices and all of the concerns and worries you may have so that you can make good decisions. This can be a very confusing time for you, and it is always good to have someone to talk to.
What do I need to know if I am sexually active or I'm thinking about becoming sexually active?
Young people have to make lots of decisions about their sexuality, including whether to abstain from sexual intercourse (not have sex) or become, or continue being, sexually active. Other sexuality issues that teens need to make decisions about are the gender of partners, the type of contraception to use, and the intensity of the relationship. You should never let others pressure you into having sex if you don't want to. The decision as to when you want to have sex for the first time (and every time after the first time) is yours, not anyone elses! Remember that it's completely okay to wait until you're older to have sex. You are young and there are risks involved, like STDs and pregnancy. Many young people just don't want to even deal with the possibility of getting an STD or getting pregnant, so they choose to wait.
Before you decide to have a sexual relationship, talk to your partner about whether this is the right decision. Ask about his or her sexual history, including if he or she has had any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Talk about whether you or your partner has been, or will be sexually involved with other people. Remember, the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease or a virus that can cause cancer or AIDS is increased if you or your partner are having sexual intercourse with other people. The more partners, the greater the risk. The only way to absolutely prevent getting a sexually transmitted disease is to not have sex. If you do decide to have sex, the best way to avoid getting any sexually transmitted diseases is to have sex with only one person who has never been exposed to an STD. You should use a latex condom every time you have sex, from start to finish.
If you are in a heterosexual relationship (you are a female dating a male), talk about birth control (latex condom, birth control pill, injection hormones) and what you would do if it failed. If you feel that you cannot talk to your partner about these issues, then you should rethink whether or not you should be having a sexual relationship with him. Talk to your primary care provider about what methods of birth control are right for you. If you are in a serious relationship, it is equally important to talk about how to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI's).
How do I find a health care provider to discuss birth control and STD protection?
Many teens and young women can talk to their moms, dads, or guardians about these issues, while others need confidential services. You can talk to your primary care provider about birth control or STD protection. You also have the options of talking to a gynecologist, a health care provider (HCP) at a family planning clinic, or an HCP at a student health center or school clinic. You should feel comfortable with your HCP, since it is important to share personal information and any health problems with her/him. You need to find a provider who will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and take the time to explain things clearly to you.
Make sure you know how to receive confidential, non-judgmental services when talking about your sexual choices and health. Practice these questions to ask:
- What happens to the bills from my visits here or to a gynecologist in the community?
- If I'm covered by my parents' insurance, will they find out about examinations and tests that are done on me?
- What if I need birth control?
- Can you tell me what happens to my lab test results? Who do you call?
- What if I want to be tested for STDs or HIV?
- What if you find out that I have a STD?
- What if you find out that I am pregnant?
- Is there any information that you are obligated to tell my parents?
- What happens if I have a big problem and need help telling my parents?
- What should I know about emergency contraception?
If your birth control method fails, you do have an option called emergency contraception, also known as the "morning-after pill." Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Emergency contraception pills are taken in 2 doses. The first dose should be taken within the first 72 hours after unprotected sex, and the second dose should be taken 12 hours later. The sooner you start the medicine after unprotected sex, the more effective the treatment is. You can usually get emergency contraception from your health care provider or family planning clinics, through Planned Parenthood, at: 1-800-230-PLAN, or by calling 1800-NOT2LATE.
What if I'm not sure whether I'm gay, straight, or bisexual?
Many young people may also be trying to figure out their sexual orientation. If you feel like you need to talk to someone or you need more support, your HCP can help you find a counselor or support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens. If you don't feel comfortable talking to your provider, you can call any of the following to talk to someone and get advice on where you can find a counselor or support group.
- BAGLY (Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Youth): 617-227-4313
- Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Youth Peer Listening Line: 1-800-399-7337
- Gay and Lesbian National Hotline: 1-800-843-4564
- LGBT HelpLine: 1-888-340-4528
QUIZ: Are you ready for sex?
Ask yourself the following questions to see if you are ready to have a sexual relationship:
- Is your decision to have sex completely your own (you feel no pressure from others, including your partner)?
- Is your decision to have sex based on the right reasons? (It shouldn't be based on peer pressure, a need to fit in or make your partner happy, or a belief that sex will make your relationship with your partner better, or closer. If you decide to have sex, it should be because you feel emotionally and physically ready and your partner should be someone you love, trust, and respect.)
- Do you feel your partner would respect any decision you made about whether to have sex or not?
- Do you trust and respect your partner?
- Are you able to comfortably talk to your partner about sex, and your partner's sexual history?
- Have you and your partner talked about what both of you would do if you became pregnant or got an STD?
- Do you know how to prevent pregnancy and STDs?
- Are you and your partner willing to use contraception to prevent pregnancy and STDs?
- Look inside yourself. Do you really feel ready and completely comfortable with yourself and your partner to have sex?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, you are not really ready for sex. If you think you should have sexual intercourse because others want you to or you feel like you should since everyone else is doing it, these are not the right reasons. You should only decide to have sex because you trust and respect your partner, you know the possible risks, you know how to protect yourself against the risks, and most importantly, because you really know that you are ready!
Staff, H. (2009, January 6). For Teens: Are You Really Ready for Sex?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/relationships/teen-relationships/for-teens-are-you-really-ready-for-sex