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Teen Girls' Health

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Ready-Made Responses

By Jennifer Ashton, M.D., Ob-Gyn with Christine Larson
WebMD Feature by “The Body Scoop for Girls”


Honesty is definitely the best policy when it comes to not having sex. If you don’t want to and you’re not ready, you shouldn’t have to explain yourself. Just tell your boyfriend clearly where you draw the line. He should respect that. If he doesn’t, you should dump him and find someone who listens to you.

Dr. Ashton's Why-Wait FAQs

When we have the wait-till-eighteen talk, most of my patients have similar questions. Here’s what I tell them:

They Ask:

I Say:

Why wait?

It’s important for your health—mind and body.

Does it really matter?

Yes! The younger you are when you start having sex, the worse it is for your health.

What’s the worst that could happen?

You could get a horrible infection and/ or get pregnant and your life might never be the same again.

How do I wait?

Have your responses ready and outline your goals.


But I’m a realist. I know things don’t always seem quite so simple in the heat of the moment. Here are some things my patients have told their boyfriends—some the straightforward truth . . . some not so much.

  1. “I’ve decided not to have sex until I’m eighteen. If we’re still dating then, maybe I’ll think about it.”
  2. “There’s no way to be 100 percent sure I won’t get pregnant or get an STI, and there’s no way I’m taking even a small risk.”
  3. “I’m not ready to have sex. I know it’s not right for me yet, and if you don’t respect that, I’ll date someone else.”
  4. “My parents promised me a car if I’m still a virgin when I graduate.”
  5. “I can’t have sex because I can’t use condoms—I’m allergic to latex.”

Dr. Ashton's Wait-Till-Eighteen Playlist

  • Wait as long as possible for sex—at least until eighteen. The longer you wait for sex, the better for your lifetime health.
  • If you want to engage in adult behavior, you have to accept adult responsibilities. If you have sex, you have to be ready to see a gynecologist, have a pelvic exam, use (and pay for) two kinds of contraception (condoms and a backup method like the pill), buy condoms at the drugstore, get screened for sexually transmitted infections, and engage in awkward conversations about all this with your boyfriend.
  • You don’t have to have sex—there are plenty of other things you and your boyfriend can do. (But remember—you can get herpes, genital warts, and all other STIs from oral sex, so use condoms even then.)

Someday you’ll have sex. But that’s not a box you need to check now. You can wait as long as you want—the longer, the better, from a medical point of view.

One More Reason to Postpone Sex

Ever hear the old saying that bad things happen in threes? Sexual activity at a young age is no exception. Statistics show that teens who are sexually active are also at higher risk for two more risky activities—smoking and the use of illegal substances, including alcohol. All these behaviors are harmful in and of themselves, but they also tend to lead to unsafe situations—including abuse, rape, and other sexual violence. We’ve all heard the horrible stories about teens killed in drunk driving accidents or who were abducted, raped, or murdered. Avoiding sex before age eighteen may help you steer clear of other risky behaviors and keep you from becoming a tragic statistic.

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