Our next major point, and I am sorry to sound so unromantic, is BE SURE YOU HAVE INVESTED IN GOOD BIRTH CONTROL. Yes, it is very possible for a gal to get pregnant the first time she has sex. It happens all the time. One little “indiscretion,” and, BAM, you’re expecting a bundle of joy who will change your live in an unimaginable way. Your childhood officially will be over, and you will be The Parent!
If you have “unprotected sex” and get pregnant, you will most likely either have an abortion or have the baby. If you have the baby, you will either keep it or give it up for adoption. Let me assure you, all these possibilities are very difficult for a young person to endure, and they can lead to regrets that plague you for many years. So, I implore you, DO NOT have sex – or anything that involves getting an erect dong anywhere near your snatch – unless you have birth control in place.
What kind of birth control should you use? This is a decision only you can make, and you can only make it if you spend some time investigating the options and talking to knowledgeable people. Sure, if your parents are cool, you can discuss this with them and maybe with your doctor. Also check out Planned Parenthood (http://www.plannedparenthood.org/bc/030205_bc4teens.htm) and other established organizations that counsel teens and young adults on these issues. In the following paragraphs, I will tell you a few general alternatives, but, please, do not stop here. Make this just the starting point for your self-education on birth control. Again, you definitely want to know more about this subject than any of your friends and all of the guys you hang out with.
Obviously, the most effective form of birth control is to avoid sexual intercourse. This is called abstinence by those who promote it, and there are many such promoters. This, of course, has lots of advantages. First off, you won’t need to read most of this book. You won’t get pregnant; you might not catch any sexually transmitted diseases; you won’t have to deal with horny guys that “love you and leave you”; and you won’t alienate any best friends by sleeping with their boyfriends. Frankly, I admire to some extent those people who can abstain from sex until they get married. They must be highly balanced people, who can enjoy other aspects of life, while controlling and subjugating that basic, persistent, genetic urge-to-merge which pervades our bodies and infiltrates our thoughts. I don’t know how they do it, but I won’t knock it. If you can embrace abstinence, I bless you. Nevertheless, be aware abstinence as a birth control strategy can lead to trouble in two circumstances.
The first troublesome circumstance is when young people rush into marriage just so they finally can have sex with a clear conscience. That is not what marriage is for, and it can cause heartache and wasted years. In cases like this, people often get pregnant shortly after getting married. Then a few years later, they start asking, “What happened to my life? How did I get here with this bozo?” Better you should have protected sex prior to marriage and ultimately break up with any person who is not a good long-term partner for you. I will have more to say about the pros and cons of marriage much later in this book. But for now, please do not rush to the altar because you are hot for some guy. That is NUTS!
A second danger of abstinence as a birth control strategy is it leaves you unprotected against changing your mind (or your behavior) in the heat of the moment. A gal and her guy can be committed to abstinence, so they agree to stop at third base, heavy petting, “outercourse,” or whatever. Suddenly, things get hot and out of control and – wham – they “go all the way.” I assure you, this does happen too frequently, as my flight attendant example above illustrates. I hope you never find yourself in this position.
So, if you decide against abstinence, or at least want extra protection, what is best for you? As usual, I want you to make up your own mind – after you educate yourself. There are several general categories, some of which are more effective than others.
- You can keep the sperm from entering you by using condoms, which are available for both males and females.
- You can kill the liberated sperm cells before they impregnate your egg by using spermicidal sponges, foams, and creams – alone or combined with a physical barrier called a diaphragm, cap, or shield.
- You can use medically-proven pills, shots, patches, or rings to prevent your ovaries from ejecting eggs and/or to thicken your cervical mucus to prevent the sperm and egg from joining.
- You can use an IUD (intrauterine device) to prevent your fertilized egg from implanting in your uterus, but these are not usually recommended for teens or young adults.
- You can take a “morning after pill” for emergency contraception.
Many of the approaches summarized above require a doctor’s or a clinician’s help. Do talk to your doctor about this or go to a free clinic. If you don’t have access or are hesitant to get counseling, you can still purchase condoms and spermicidal creams and jells in drugstores. So, there really is no excuse for failing to take the necessary precautions. I know it is not “romantic,” but good birth control is the best thing you can do for yourself and your partner. Again, PLEASE don’t be lazy; don’t procrastinate; do your research.
There are a couple of so-called birth control methods I think you definitely should avoid. The first is withdrawal. In this one, the gal trusts the guy to withdraw his rod just before he climaxes, so the sperm is shot onto her belly or back, instead of into her yoni. This is goofy, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the guy’s dick head is leaking small amounts (drops) of sperm and semen whenever he is erect for any length of time. So, even if he withdraws as promised, you can still get pregnant – even if he does not have an orgasm! Beyond that, what if he “forgets” to withdraw? Believe me, the tendency to forget is powerful as the guy is approaching orgasm. Sometimes, the guy is trying not to climax, because he wants to prolong the fun, but it just happens anyway. Bingo, you might get pregnant. So, withdrawal is a very, very dumb strategy.
Another risky method to avoid is now called Fertility Awareness Method. In brief, you track when your periods occur, and you only have sex during the times you are less likely to be ovulating (releasing an egg). Suffice it to say, Catholics previously called this the Rhythm Method, and it lead to many, many large Catholic families in times gone by. It is whacky to think you and your partner will have the discipline to only hook up on the correct days – even if you can do enough research over a 6 to 12 month period to know when those days are. And even if you time it correctly, nature can fool you, and one persistent little sperm will somehow penetrate that egg – to everyone’s amazement.
A related approach to this is to have sex only during your periods. The logic says, “How can I possibly get pregnant while I am having my period?” I think this logic makes sense, however, it has been known to happen. I really do not know how, though. Perhaps the sperm hung around for a few days while a new egg was released. Of course, periods can be “icky” and sticky, and some people just cannot stand the thought. Some gals are hornier (wanting more sex) during their periods, while others are turned-off completely. I’d say it depends partly on the flow of the menstruation and on the attitude of the partners. In certain situations, it is not at all inconvenient. But do not assume this is a foolproof method of birth control, because I am told it is not.
Sterilization is a more permanent method of birth control. Gals can have their fallopian tubes tied, and men can have vasectomies. These completely block the flow of eggs or sperm, respectively. This is 100% effective, as far as I know. These are not recommended for young, single people, because they can be difficult and costly to undo. Save sterilization for older people who have had all the children they can handle.
The morning after pill has finally been approved for sale in theUnited States, after years of availability in other countries. There are several brands. As of this writing, I believe it is available for sale over-the-counter in pharmacies to adults, but to minors only by doctor’s prescription. Of course, this approach is effective only for a short time period after you have intercourse. Planned Parenthood says it reduces the risk of pregnancy by 89 percent when started within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. That means you still have about a one-in-ten chance of getting pregnant. Do you really want to take those odds? While great for emergencies, the morning after pill is NOT a sensible long-term birth control strategy.
There is talk of developing a male birth control pill. I think this will be a reality within the next decade or two, and it should have been developed a long time ago. Since guys are less likely to be responsible about where they sow their seed, it makes sense that they should own the issue of making that seed less potent. However, unless male birth control turns the guy’s dick head a bright chartreuse color, I am skeptical that any thoughtful woman will ever be able to trust a guy’s claim that he has taken care of the birth control issue.
What happens if you do get pregnant, despite your efforts to avoid it? This does happen, but rarely, provided you are diligent in your birth control techniques. You might miss one of your monthly periods, which is the indication that you could be pregnant. You can purchase a pregnancy test kit for a few bucks at a grocery store or pharmacy. If it says YES, try it again just to be sure. If you are pregnant, you are facing a very serious life issue. So give yourself at least a few days to understand your feelings about it. DO NOT keep it to yourself, as it can make you depressed, manic, or freaky. First, talk to your best girl friend about it. If you can, talk to your parents as soon as possible. Get some counseling at Planned Parenthood or a similar organization. Talk to your boyfriend about it. If you are comfortable talking with a spiritual or religious advisor, do that too. Your choices boil down to
1) have the baby and raise it as a member of your own family (with or without marrying the father and getting help from your parents and siblings)
2) have the baby and give it up for adoption by a mature, stable family
3) have an abortion (termination of pregnancy, or TOP).
Above all, remember that this is your choice, no one else’s. Just about everyone you discuss this with will try to tell you what is best for you and what your responsibilities are, etc., but in the final analysis it is your life and your decision. So take your time making it, and don’t let anyone pressure you into going against your own mind and heart. Later on, I’ll give you a few more thoughts to consider about having kids.
In the meantime, please don’t even think about having sex until your birth control is in place!