The physical and emotional changes that happen to everyone as they grow up can be exciting and confusing. It may seem like you wake up one morning and everything about you is different and strange. Your friends are probably feeling the same way, but that doesn't make it easier.
Many of the changes you are experiencing are sexual. You are developing into an adult and your feelings can be very strong. Having good information and understanding these changes can make them less confusing.
There are lots of messages around about love and sex. Parents, friends, church, television, and magazines may have different ideas about being in love or being sexually active. It is important that you get the facts and sort through your feelings. You are the one who must make choices and be willing to live with the consequences, good or bad. The more you know about and like yourself, the more likely it is that you will make decisions that are right for you.
Lots of people have sex for reasons that have nothing to do with intimacy and love such as:
You should not feel pressured into doing something you don't want to. There are many ways of showing people you care for them or that you "fit in" without making yourself uncomfortable. Keep in mind that sexual experience can result in lifelong consequences: pregnancy, STDs or AIDS. The only way to prevent this from happening is to say no to sex.
Talk with you parents or others whom you trust and respect. If you need more information or you would like to talk to someone about your feelings, see COUNSELING, p.14.
If you are sexually active, you are running the risk of becoming pregnant. You are also at risk of getting a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). Talk to people who you know care about you and whom you trust and respect about your decision to be sexually active. The best way to prevent pregnancy or an STD is to not have sex. If you still choose to be sexually active, be responsible and protect yourself and your partner. There is no such thing as safe sex, only safer sex.
You should be aware of the following statistics. Birth control methods are only effective if used consistently, properly and according to the directions.
Birth Control Method Effectiveness Abstinence (saying "no") 100% Pill 97% Condom 88% Spermicide 79% Sponge 72% Withdrawal 72%
The following organizations will provide information and/or assistance (click on the agency's name for more information):