You might be wondering how you’ll know when it’s time to take it to the next level. Here’s a three-step action plan for making smart choices about sex.
1: Think about it.
Sex should only happen within the context of a caring, loving relationship. Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and remember that there's nothing wrong with deciding to wait.
Bad reasons to have sex:
- Because your partner is pressuring you
- Because you’ve been together a long time
- Because you think sex will make your partner fall in love with you
Believe it or not, not everyone's doing it and waiting is always an option.
2: Talk about it.
You’ll want to talk to your partner before you have sex to make sure you’re on the same page. Talk over whether sex is something you both feel ready for, and discuss what you’ll use for birth control. Remember that it’s never OK for anyone to pressure you for sex, ever.
You might also want to talk to your parents so they can set up a doctor’s appointment for you to get birth control. You can also make an appointment yourself if you don't feel comfortable telling your parents: find a teen-friendly health center.
3: Make a plan.
Sometimes teens have sex because “it just happens,” not because it’s a decision they’ve made. And because they hadn’t planned to have sex, they often wind up having unprotected sex, sometimes resulting in STIs or unplanned pregnancy.
Planning out what you’ll do in advance is smart— just because you have a condom in your wallet, or go on the pill, it doesn’t mean that you have to have sex. It’s a just-in-case that will protect you and your partner if you do decide to have sex. You can also make a plan not to have sex…not right now, anyway.
Keep in mind...
Not everyone's doing it
Trust us, you won't be the only one deciding to wait. For a lot of teens it's the right decision for them.
Birth control is worth the time and effort.
Abstinence is the only foolproof way to prevent pregnancy, but contraception offers excellent protection against pregnancy and STIs. Some birth control methods offer up to 99% effectiveness. Check out Power to Decide to figure out the best method for you when the time is right.
Know what birth control method you want to use, but not sure how to get it?
Contraception must be used every time you have sex in order to be effective.
But even if you have had unprotected sex in the past, you can still require ask that your partner to use protection today. It’s never too late to start protecting yourself.
You can’t tell if someone has an STI by looking at them.
Using a condom and birth control means you're protecting yourself from both STIs and unplanned pregnancy.