Although the rate of teen pregnancies has decreased in the U.S. over the past decade, every day, over 2,000 teen girls become pregnant. That’s more than 750,000 pregnancies each year. Studies estimate that by age 20, 30% of girls will experience pregnancy.
Considering the fact that at least 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, it’s a good idea for teens to learn about pregnancy so they can be adequately prepared—both educationally and emotionally—so that they can handle a risky situation before it arises.
If you’re a teen, here are a few key facts you should know about sex:
Sex has physical and emotional consequences. If you can’t talk to your partner comfortably about the choice to have sex or not, what type of birth control you will use every time you have sex, and what to do if you get pregnant or if one of you gets an STD, then you’re simply not ready!
- Abstinence is the only way to never get pregnant. If you decide to have sex, you must use a reliable form of birth control—most commonly condoms or the pill—every time.
- You can get pregnant the first time you have sex.
- If you’re a virgin, don’t be embarrassed. Less than 50% of teens are not sexually active and 75% of teens say it’s not embarrassing to admit their virginity.
- Although girls often assume that all guys want is sex, 2 out of 3 guys say they’d rather have a girlfriend and not have sex than have no girlfriend at all.
- Less than half of teen mothers finish high school and most teen mothers ultimately end up below the poverty line. Don’t let this be you!
Let’s say you’re a teen and you think you’re pregnant. Here are some ways you might be able to tell; however, many symptoms are not exclusive to pregnancy.
- Missed period
- Extreme lethargy
- Breast tenderness
- Nausea and queasiness (morning sickness)
- Frequent urination
- Lower backache
If your period is late and you are sexually active, you’ll want to find out if you’re pregnant as quickly as possible. Take a home pregnancy test (urine test) and make an appointment with your doctor to have a blood test, which is more reliable.
If you are pregnant, you have several options to consider. Having a baby is an extremely emotional time; you might feel overwhelmed, scared, embarrassed, or ashamed. You might feel pressured to make a decision quickly. Whatever you’re feeling, remember to put your needs first, take care of yourself, and take the time to evaluate all of your options. Here are some choices you will have:
- Parent the baby. If you decide to parent your child, keep in mind that if you’re not married, even though the baby’s father is legally obligated to care for the child, in reality, you will most likely give most—if not all—of the care. Ask yourself if you’ll be able to adequately and successfully provide for the baby? Will you be able to feed it? Buy clothes, diapers, and other supplies? How will you financially provide for yourself and the baby? Will you need to quit your job or drop out of school? How will these decisions effect the rest of your life?
- Adoption. If you don’t feel you can adequately provide for the baby, but don’t want to have an abortion, you might consider giving the baby up for adoption. You’ll need to investigate the adoption laws in your state. If you decide to give your baby up for adoption, remember that this will be emotionally painful, whether you think it will be or not. However, there are many people in our country that would make excellent parents but cannot have children of their own, and adoption agencies work with these candidates to ensure that they would be good parents.
- Abortion. If you cannot provide for the baby and do not want to go through with the birth, you can opt to abort your baby. Abortion is an emotionally and physically painful experience, but, if you might decide that it’s the best choice for you.
If you’re a teen and you’re pregnant, remember that you are not alone! Establish a support circle, if you can, of family and friends who are understanding of your situation and will help you work through your pregnancy. You might also go to your community’s Planned Parenthood for support. Here are some other websites to check out: