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What Do You Recommend For Safer Sex?

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I am 16 and a virgin and I have a long distance boyfriend I'm in love with. We're not sexually active right now, but we'd like to be pretty soon and I want to know what we can do for effective birth control. I know about condoms, pills, etc, but I don't trust a single method and don't want to be on pills all the time cause of potential long term side effects. Since I only see him around once every couple months would it be okay to use morning after pills in addition to condoms to be safe? What would you recommend? Also, whats your advice on the emotional issues regarding sex? I want to be as informed as possible before I make an important decision. Thank you!
Signed: What Do You Recommend For Safer Sex?

Dear What Do You Recommend For Safer Sex?,

 

TeenHealthFX agrees that is best for teens not to trust a single method of birth control. Teens who choose to be sexually active should use condoms each and every time they have oral, anal, or vaginal sex to help protect against the transmission of STDs and unwanted pregnancies. And since condoms do have a 15% failure rate, it is generally recommended that they be used in conjunction with birth control pills for women who do not want to become pregnant.

As far as using emergency contraception (the “morning after pill”), FX does NOT recommend that you use this as an ongoing method of birth control. EC was designed to be used in case of emergencies, such as a condom breaking, not on a regular basis as an ongoing and planned use of birth control.

 As for your concerns about potential long-term side effects of the pill, FX suggests you discuss these concerns with your doctor since the use of condoms and the pill would be a good option for the situation you describe. While it possible for some women to have irregular periods, nausea, headaches, or weight changes while on the pill, most women have no side effects when taking the pill. Talk to your doctor, and read about Birth Control Pills on the Center for Young Women’s Health website through Children’s Hospital Boston for more information.

In terms of your concerns about side effects with the pill, keep in mind that there are common misconceptions about the birth control pill. For example, there is the myth that the pill causes cancer. But the pill can actually protect against cancer of the ovaries and cancer of the lining of the uterus. To learn about the myths and realities of pill side effects, we suggest you read the article Oral Contraceptive Pills and Teens: A Guide for Parents.

While is important to approach sex in a responsible way as far as protecting yourself from the transmission of STDs and unwanted pregnancies, it is also very important to consider the emotional side of sex – how you will feel about it and how you feel about the person you are thinking of being sexually active with. For some considerations on the emotional issues related to being physically intimate read our answer to Want to Have Sex, But Not Sure If I Am Ready, as well as Planned Parenthood’s articles Am I Ready for Sex? and on Relationships.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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