Making Healthy Sexual Decisions

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You may be thinking about what it means to be involved in a sexual relationship. As a young adult, it’s normal to think about sex, have sexual feelings, and have a desire to learn more about your own body. Deciding to have a sexual relationship is an important decision since it involves both your body and your emotions. You need to make sure that it’s the right decision for you. It’s always good to have a trusted adult to talk to.

What should I think about before I decide to have sex?

There are many things that are important to think about before you decide to have sex, including whether this is what you want and whether this is the right time in your life. You should also think about how you will feel afterwards. It should be a decision made without any pressure from your partner or friends.

You should never let others pressure you into having sex if you don’t want to.

  • The decision to have sex for the first time (and every time after) is yours, not anyone else’s!
  • Remember that it’s completely appropriate to wait to have sex.
Young women choose to wait to have sex for many reasons, such as wanting to wait until they are older or married, being unsure about what they want, having certain religious beliefs, or wanting to avoid the possibility of getting a sexually transmitted infection(STI) or getting pregnant.

What do I need to know if I’m sexually active or I’m thinking about becoming sexually active?

Young women have to make lots of decisions about sex, including whether to abstain (not have sex), or be sexually active.

If you are sexually active, you’ll also need to think about the:

  • Gender of your sexual partner(s)
  • Kind of relationship you have with them
  • Type of contraception (if you have a male partner) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention methods you’ll use

Before you decide to have a sexual relationship, talk with your partner about whether having sex is what you both want.

  1. Ask about his or her sexual history, including if he or she has had any STI’s.
  2. Talk about what kinds of STI prevention methods you plan to use.
  3. If you are in a heterosexual (straight) relationship, talk about birth control (condom, birth control pill, injection hormones, the “patch”, the “ring”, or IUD) and what you would do if it failed. If you feel that you can’t talk to your partner about these issues, then you should rethink whether or not you should be having a sexual relationship.
  4. Be open and honest about whether you or your partner have been, or will be sexually involved with other people.Remember, the risk of getting an STI or a virus that can cause cancer or AIDS is increased if you or your partner(s) have sexual intercourse with other people. The more partners, the greater the risk!
  5. Talk to your primary care provider about methods of birth control that are right for you, and about how to prevent STI’s.

Don’t forget that a female can get pregnant at ANY time if she has sex with a male without a condom, or if she is not using birth control correctly. To lessen the chance of pregnancy and STI’s, you should use a latex condom every time you have sex, from start to finish. The only way to absolutely prevent getting pregnant or an STI is to not have sex.

Whom can I talk to about sex?

If you have questions about sex (whether or not you’re thinking about having a sexual relationship) you should talk to your parent(s)/guardian(s), a trusted adult such as a school counselor, someone from your religious center/youth group, or your health care provider. It’s a good idea to discuss all of your choices and any concerns you may have so that you can make healthy decisions. Deciding whether or not to have sex can be a difficult decision, so it’s always good to have someone to talk to.

How do I find a health care provider to discuss birth control and STI protection?

Many young women and men can talk to their moms, dads, or guardians about these issues, while others need confidential services. You can talk to your primary care provider (PCP) about birth control or STI protection. You also have the option of talking to a gynecologist, a health care provider at a family planning clinic, or a health care provider at a student health center or school clinic. You should feel comfortable with your provider, since it’s important to share personal information and any health problems with her/him. You need to find a provider who will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and take the time to explain things clearly to you.