How to Have Sex Responsibly
Sex can be one of lifeís most fulfilling experiences. But whether or not youíre sexually active, there is information you should have to help you set your own boundaries and make your own choices about sexual activity. These days, what you donít know about sex can hurt you, so youíll want to get the factsóand fast. Whether or not youíre currently having sex with someone, you probably have lots of questions about how to protect yourself and your partner. Fortunately, we have some answers.
Fundamentally, itís your body and itís up to you what you do with it. It may surprise you to know that most teens today arenít sexually active. If you choose to have sex, you need to make informed choices to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIVóthe virus that causes AIDSóas well as accidental pregnancy. You also need to be prepared for the emotions that having sex can stir up. Making smart decisions is easier than you might thinkóall it takes is a little foresight and planning before you are in the heat of the moment. Make the effort to safeguard your physical and emotional health, both now and for the long term. Remember that having sex is a choice (not just the first time, but every time) and your decision is your own.
AVOIDING UNINTENDED PREGNANCY
Unintended pregnancy can have serious consequences for women and men, including decreased chances of finishing school, an unstable financial future, and risks for the motherís health, not to mention for the babyís health and development. YOU THINK YOU MAY BE PREGNANT If you have had sexual intercourse and youíve missed your period, especially if your breasts are tender or swollen or you feel tired or sick to your stomach, you may be pregnant. If you think you might be pregnant, you need to get a pregnancy test right away to find out for sure. You can arrange an appointment to see your health care provider, or buy a home pregnancy test at a drugstore, supermarket or online. (They run $8 to $20 and you should follow the instructions carefully.) To find a clinic or provider near you, see Hotlines and Websites section of this guide.
Call your provider or clinic or go to a hospital emergency room right away if you experience the following symptoms.
- Fainting or dizziness that lasts more than a few seconds
- Sudden heavy bleeding with clots or clumps of tissue after a late period
- Abdominal pain and a fever
- Sudden, intense pain, persistent pain or cramping in the lower abdomen, especially if itís on one side
- Irregular bleeding or spotting with abdominal pain, especially after a light or late period
If a condom breaks or you forget to take your pill a few times this month, there is something you can do, but you need to act quickly. You can take emergency contraception (EC) within 120 hours (5 days) to help reduce the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent. However, the faster you act, the greater your chances are of avoiding an unintended pregnancy; you should try to take EC within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. One dedicated emergency contraceptive product is available today. Itís called Plan B and it currently requires a prescription.
IF YOUíRE CONSIDERING ANY OF THE FOLLOWINGN CONTRACEPTIVE METHODS, DONíT TRY! THEY WONíT HELP YOU:
- Having intercourse during your periods. Sexual intercourse during your period is also a riskier time for HIV transmission. Regardless of the time of the month, you should always use protection whenever you have intercourse.
- Peeing after intercourse is a complete myth that people believe and follow to avoid pregnancy. Urinating after sex does nothing to protect against pregnancy because women do not urinate out of their vaginal opening.
- Douching Instead of rinsing sperm out of the vagina. It can also increase the risk of infection.
Many psychological and cultural obstacles get in the way of engaging protected sex. But these obstacles would be lessened a great deal if on the national level public institutions implanted aids prevention campaigns, visible and targeted, in wide public media, talking clearly about sexual behavior. That sort of campaign would allow people on the field to insure a better work and get rid of ambiguity around risk reduction