Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions we get here at Stay Teen. If you don't find what you're looking for here, send us an email. We won’t post every question we get, but we’ll do our best to get back to everyone who emails us. For more information, check out our Stay Informed section.
1. I'm not sure if I’m ready for sex. How can I tell?
There’s no perfect moment when you’ll suddenly know that you’re ready for sex. Sex is a complicated and personal decision so it’s all about knowing what’s best for you. No one else can tell you when you’re ready but here are a few things you should consider:
- Are you doing this because YOU want to? Or are you thinking about having sex because someone else wants you to? Maybe you’re not sure you’re ready, but your partner is putting on the pressure? Or maybe all your friends seem to be having sex, so you feel you should be too? Having sex because someone else is pressuring you is not a good reason. Remember, you're in charge of your own life—don't let anyone pressure you into having sex.
- Have you seriously considered the consequences of having sex? Obviously, sex can have some serious physical consequences, such as unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you’re going to have sex, you need to think about birth control options and choose a method that will work for you. But sex is more than just the physical stuff. Have you considered the emotional consequences that sex might have on you, your partner, and your relationship? Having sex with someone takes things to a whole new level—are you and your partner ready for that? Have you talked about it? If you’re not sure that you’re ready or you haven’t talked with your partner (or are too embarrassed to), it might be a good idea to wait.
- Are you and your partner on the same page? You can’t expect to understand what your partner is thinking or expect them to understand what you’re thinking if you aren’t talking about it. You’ve got to talk with your partner about how they feel about sex, what each of you are comfortable doing, and what each of you will do to prevent pregnancy and STIs. If you can’t talk about sex with your partner, then you’re probably not ready to have it. It’s as simple as that.
- Do you know how to have protect yourself? It’s really important that you know how to protect against pregnancy and STIs. If you’re going to have sex, you have to use birth control consistently and correctly every single time you have sex in order to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STIs. Remember: if you're having sex and not using birth control, you're planning to get pregnant. Again, this is something you need to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about before you have sex so you’re both okay about what you’re going to use.
The decision to have sex is a BIG one. If you feel comfortable with the situation and have had an open and sincere conversation about sex with your partner, maybe you are ready. But if you aren’t totally comfortable with the decision, then you probably aren't. It might help to talk to someone you trust about the pros and cons of the situation. Even if it seems tough, try talking to your parents and getting their advice. Or try another trusted adult, older sibling, or responsible friend who is willing to talk to you.
2. What is the best way to make sure I don't get pregnant (or get someone pregnant)?
Well, the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex. But if you're going to have sex then you need to make sure you use protection carefully, consistently, and correctly EVERY SINGLE TIME. There are lots of methods of contraception available—find out about each of these and other methods in our Birth Control section or talk to a health care professional to find the method that's right for you. Remember that only condoms (female and male) will protect you from STIs.
3. I think I'm pregnant. What should I do?
If you think you might be pregnant, the first thing to do is find out for sure. You can take a home pregnancy test from the drugstore, but the best option is to make an appointment with a health care professional. They can not only tell you whether or not you’re pregnant, but they can counsel you on what to do if you are and how to avoid pregnancy in the future if you’re not. And keep this in mind: the sooner you know, the better off you'll be. Don’t wait to see a doctor because you’re scared of what you’ll find out. If you need help finding a health care professional, you can call Planned Parenthood at 1-800-230-PLAN or visit PlannedParenthood.org to find a clinic or doctor right away.
4. I'm pregnant. What do I do now?
Find an adult you love and trust—your parents or someone else who loves you and has your best interests in mind. This isn't something you should face alone. You also need to see a doctor or other health care professional as soon as possible to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy. One thing you absolutely cannot do is ignore the fact that you are pregnant. So find someone to talk to and get their help; then contact a health care professional (you can call Planned Parenthood at 1-800-230-PLAN or visit PlannedParenthood.org to find a clinic or doctor) and make an appointment.
5. Can you really get pregnant or get someone pregnant the first time you have sex or if you only have sex with someone once?
Yes, you can. Every single time you have sex there is a chance that you can get pregnant/cause a pregnancy. The first time and every time. The only 100% foolproof way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex in the first place. If you are having sex, it's important that you use protection each and every time you have sex. No exceptions. So visit our Birth Control section or talk to a health care professional to find the method that's right for you. You can also get more info on other common sex and pregnancy myths in our Myths section and learn more about pregnancy in our Teen Pregnancy section.
6. Do condoms really break? What do I do if that happens?
Yes, it’s possible for condoms to break but that’s not very common if you’re using them correctly. For example, you have to make sure that when you open the package you don't damage the condom with your teeth or fingernails, you have to roll the condom on right side up (yes—you CAN put condoms on inside out!) making sure that there's no air trapped inside, and you have to leave a little space at the tip. You also have to make sure you're not using expired condoms or lube that will break down the latex (petroleum jelly is a big no-no). Want to know more? Check out our Birth Control section on condoms.
If the condom breaks, you can get Emergency Contraception (aka “EC”; there are a few different types of EC, so check out our Birth Control section on EC to learn more). This medication has the same hormones found in birth control pills and it interferes with the fertilization process. It is NOT meant to be used as regular contraception—hence the name “emergency.”
7. If I want to go on the pill do I have to tell my parents?
The pill is a prescription-only method of birth control, meaning that you can't just go into a store and buy a pack like you can with condoms. You’ll have to see a health care professional to get a prescription; if you’re not comfortable going to your doctor, or you’re concerned that your parents will find out, there are health clinics you can visit that don’t require a parent’s consent. Once you have a prescription, you take it to a pharmacy to be filled, just like for any other medication. Want to know more? Check out our Birth Control section on the pill.
8. I tried the pill but didn't like the side effects. What other options do I have?
Don't give up! There are nearly 50 different brands of pills and chances are there is one that will work for you. And if the pill isn't right for you, there are many other options. Check out our Birth Control section to learn about other methods. Remember: if you're starting a new pill or are "between" contraceptive methods, either don't have sex at all or use a back up method of birth control. Talk to your health care provider for help finding the birth control method that's right for you.
9. I've had unprotected sex and I've never gotten pregnant. Does this mean I can't get pregnant?
No. If you are sexually active and not using protection, you have an 85% chance of getting pregnant within one year. Just because it hasn't happened yet is no guarantee that it won't. If you're in doubt, get checked out by a health care professional, and use that as an opportunity to talk about the best birth control method for you. Unless you are actively trying to prevent a pregnancy, chances are good that you'll get pregnant. The only 100% way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex. If you are having sex, use some kind of birth control each and every time you have sex. No exceptions.
10. What if I think I want to get pregnant and have a baby?
Remember, it's all about timing: preventing pregnancy now can help you be the best parent you can be later in life, when you're emotionally and financially ready. Most teen moms say they love their children but wish they'd waited 10 years to have them. Babies are wonderful, but they need and deserve adult parents who are willing and able to do the demanding and lifelong work of raising a child. Babies require unconditional love 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They give a lot of love back, but they depend on you for everything.
11. Won't having a baby make my relationship better or make my boyfriend stay with me forever?
Having a baby often leads to a lot of problems in a relationship—it usually won't strengthen a relationship and doesn't necessarily lead to marriage. In fact, 8 out of 10 fathers never marry the teen mothers of their babies. Raising a child is hard. Raising a child alone is even harder. Being a teenager is a great time for growing up, getting an education, meeting new people, and having fun–not pregnancy and parenthood.