Over 1/2 (53%) of high school students have never had sexual intercourse. So, most students are NOT having sex. (2). Further, 69% of young adults (age 18-24) say that it is acceptable for someone their age to be a virgin. (3)
Barrier devices work by preventing sperm from entering the cervix (the opening to the uterus). Contraceptives that use this method are called barrier devices because they block sperm. Barrier devices include:
When used alone, barrier methods have a failure rate of 12-28%. When not used correctly, the failure rate can be even higher. For more information on barrier methods and their effectiveness, refer to:
Sexually transmitted infections (also called STDs by some) are infections that can be spread through vaginal penile, anal, or oral sex.
Sexually transmitted diseases are passed between individuals through contact with the genitals, skin, mouth, rectum, or bodily fluids. STIs include:
For detailed information about each STI, please refer to:
Approximately one in four teenagers and young adults get an STI each year. Anyone who is having sex or sexual contact is at risk for an STI. Teenagers at increased risk include those who have multiple (more than one) partners, those whose partner is infected with an STI, and those who have unprotected sex.
Sexually transmitted diseases can cause problems ranging from mild irritation to severe pain, but most are present with no symptoms at all. Thus, you cannot always tell if a person has an STI, and they may not know about it themselves. For this reason, all sexually active teens should get screened for STIs every year and when they get a new partner.
To prevent STIs use a condom every time, limit your number of sexual partners, and get the HPV and Hep B vaccinations.
If you are diagnosed with an STI, it is important to tell your partner so that he/she can get tested and treated as needed. Otherwise your partner may pass the infection back to you again after you have had treatment or he/she may pass it on to someone else.
In most states, minors (people younger than age 18 years) have the right to make choices about STI screening without their parents’ permission. Discuss with your health care provider your rights in this regard and how the visit can be kept private . Be aware that if you use your parents’ health insurance to pay for a doctor’s visit as it may appear on the bill that your parents receive. Most cities also have STI clinics that allow a teen to get STI screening and treatment free of charge or at a low cost.
You should make up your own mind to have sex when the time is right for you. If you are not ready for sex, say NO, as abstinence is the only way to ensure that you do not get pregnant and do not get infections.
If you think you are ready to have sex, or if you already have had sex, it is best to be responsible in your actions. Responsibility includes preventing pregnancy AND sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Contraception, also called birth control, helps stop you from becoming pregnant. Each month an egg is released from the female ovary (ovulation). If the egg is met by a sperm, the egg can become fertilized and attach to the inside of the womb or uterus (implantation). Pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg is implanted. Teens have many contraceptive choices to choose from in order to prevent pregnancy.
Contraception comes in many forms, including:
For a list of all available contraceptions and further information about each, including the pros/cons of each method, please refer to:
As soon as you think you may be pregnant or have an infection, you should confide in an adult who you trust who can help you make important decisions regarding pregnancy and/or treatment options.
You should see a doctor or go to a clinic to confirm that you are pregnant or have an infection. Then the doctor will talk to you about your options for treatment.
Disclaimer: All health information on Girlsmarts.org is for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a trusted adult/guardian or professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard parental or professional medical advice or delay in seeking these because of something you have read on the Girlsmarts.org website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call a trusted adult and your doctor or 911 immediately.