What you need to know
If you are having sex, or are thinking about it, here are some things to think about:
Sexually Transmitted Infections
STIs (sometimes called STDs) are bacteria and viruses that are spread from one person to another through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and sometimes through skin-to-skin contact. There are over 25 different STIs that, if untreated, could cause serious health problems in the future. Most STIs can be prevented by using a latex or polyurethane (plastic) condom, or a dental dam (placed over the vagina or anus for oral sex). And don’t forget, STIs can be prevented by not having sex.
If you have sex without using a condom (or some other kind of birth control) from start to finish you could get pregnant. Putting a condom on after you start, pulling out (withdrawal), and douching are NOT effective ways to prevent pregnancy.
Talking to your Doctor
Sex is a private thing between you and your partner, but it is also a big part of your current and future health, just like eating right, not smoking, and exercising. So expect your doctor to ask you (in private, with your parents out of the room) about your sex life as part of your check-up, in order to find out about your risks for things like STIs, pregnancy, and HIV. Your doctor can be a big help—he or she can give you the RIGHT information so you can make the best decisions for yourself, and can even help you talk with your parents if you are uncomfortable doing that on your own.
You can also call the Sexual Health Helpline at (877) MA-SEX-ED or (877) 627-3933, or check out our resources to find a teen-friendly health care provider near you.