15-year old Alice just found out she is pregnant. Actually, her aunt noticed the weight gain and protruding belly and took her to the clinic for an exam. She is scared about the pregnancy but mostly about how her father will react. She is also sad because her mother will be disappointed. How is it possible! She only had sex one time and her boyfriend pulled out before he ejaculated. Furthermore, her friends told her that if she douched with vinegar after sex, she would not get pregnant.
According to the World Health Organization, in Kenya 1 out of every 4 girls have a baby before the age of 18. In addition, more than half of unmarried girls give birth before the age of 20. Thousands of teens become pregnant each year because they do not use birth control or use it incorrectly. There are many why teens don’t use birth control. These include: they think they will not get pregnant, are afraid to talk to parents, don’t have the money to buy birth control, are afraid about what their partner thinks about birth control, and have unplanned sex.
Ideally, abstinence is the best approach, however, you should make up your own mind when the time is right for sex. Don’t feel pressured by friends or partners to have sex before you are ready because you will be disappointed and regret the decision. In addition, you could get pregnant or worse get a sexually transmitted infection.
WHAT DOES NOT WORK
- The most popular method seems to be withdrawal. Pulling out before ejaculation is not reliable because fluids leak from the penis before and after ejaculation. These fluids may have enough sperm to cause pregnancy.
- Douching which involves squirting water or any other liquid into the vagina after sex does not kill sperm.
- Plastic wrap or a plastic bag over the penis can tear and let sperm escape. There are no special positions that can prevent pregnancy. If the penis enters or comes close to the vagina, you can get pregnant.
- Urinating after sex does not get rid of the sperm in the vagina. You can get pregnant even when having sex for the first time.
It is important to talk to parents, guardians or health care providers if you are planning to have sex or have already started having sex.
It is just as important to talk openly about birth control with your partner. There are many options for birth control but not all options can also prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Hormonal methods prevent pregnancy 99% of the time if they are used correctly. Examples of hormonal methods are pills, patch, ring and injection. The hormones prevent the release of the eggs every month. You have to take a pill at the same time everyday. There are different kinds and are safe. Other benefits of the pill include lighter menstrual cycles, less cramps and improve acne. The patch is worn on the skin and should be changed every week for a total of 3 weeks in a row. You leave the patch off for a week. The ring is placed in the upper vagina and is worn for 21 days and removed for 7 days. The birth control shot is given every 3 months.
Barrier methods keep the sperm from reaching the egg. This method can prevent pregnancy 95 to 98% of the time when used correctly. Examples include the male condom, female condom, spermicide, diaphragm, cervical cap and Lea’s shield. The last 3 methods listed must be fitted to your body by a health care provider. Condoms should be put on the right way before sex, not during. Do not use the male and female condoms at the same time because it makes both condoms more likely to break. Condoms should never be reused.
Intrauterine devices prevent pregnancy 99% of the time. The device is inserted and removed by a health care provider. It has a string you can feel to ensure that it is still in place. Depending on the kind of device, it can provide protection for 5 – 10 years. IUD’s are not good for women at risk for sexually transmitted infections of if you or your partner are sexually active with other people.
Birth control in an emergency is needed if a condom broke or slipped off, the birth control was not used correctly, sex was not planned, you did not use birth control or were forced to have sex. The “morning after pill” works best if taken within a maximum of 120 hours after having sex, although they lose their potency every hour. The risk of pregnancy exists if you have unprotected sex after the pills have been taken.
If you are sexually active, then long-term birth control should be used. Overuse of the emergency contraception has been associated with irregular menstrual cycles. Emergency contraceptive pills are not appropriate for regular use as an ongoing contraceptive because of the higher possibility of failure.
Sexually transmitted infections are spread by sexual contact and this includes having oral, anal or vaginal sex. It is not always possible to tell if a person has an infection by looking at them, Many can be cured such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia and syphilis but can lead to permanent problems such as infertility. Others like HIV, genital warts and herpes can be treated but not cured. They are with you for life! Remember to protect yourself by asking your partner about their history and always using condoms.
At 15, Alice is faced with new responsibilities. She has learned that in the future, she will be careful not to feel pressured to have sex and if she chooses to have sex, she will protect herself against unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.