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Teen Sex and Pregnancy Myths

What About Teen Sex and Birth Control?

If you are sexually active or are thinking of becoming sexually active, talk to your parents and your doctor about birth control. Birth control comes in pills, injections, devices placed in the uterus, and even in time-release medications that are placed under your skin.

Condoms come in many different forms. The best also contain spermicides, which help to reduce the risk of pregnancy. Condoms also are the best way to reduce transmission of some -- but unfortunately not all -- sexually transmitted diseases.

Even with the best methods of hormonal birth control such as pills or the patch -- and even when they're combined with condoms -- there is still a risk of pregnancy and STDs. Abstinence (choosing to go without sex) is the only surefire method of not getting pregnant or picking up a disease.

What Are Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)?

Besides getting pregnant, sex may expose you to a sexually transmitted disease.

STDs are spread through sexual contact. These diseases include human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, the organism that causes AIDS). It is estimated that as many as 3 million teens contract a sexually transmitted infection each year.

You also risk contracting an STD through oral or anal sex. Some STDs can do serious damage to the body, causing hard-to-treat infection, scarring, infertility, and cancer of the cervix or the uterus.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a major consequence of chlamydia and gonorrhea infections in young women. It is the most common cause of infertility, because it can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes, which prevents eggs from reaching the uterus. But these eggs can still sometimes be fertilized by sperm swimming past the blockage. This results in a life-threatening pregnancy outside the womb (ectopic pregnancy).

Though some STDs are curable, others, like herpes and HIV, are not.

The Burden of Teen Sex and Unplanned Pregnancies

Every year, almost 800,000 teens get pregnant in the United States. Of those pregnancies, 74% to 95% are unplanned.

Teen pregnancy places enormous burdens on young mothers and young fathers. Statistics show that teen girls who get pregnant tend to have fewer opportunities to further their educations. Many drop out of school to raise their children.

Remember, it's easier than you think to get pregnant or contract an STD. If you are going to be sexually active, then practice safe sex and talk to someone you trust about the risks involved. See your primary health care professional, or a family planning clinic, for confidential help concerning birth control and STDs.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on February 15, 2014
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