If you are thinking about being sexually active and are wondering how you can prevent being pregnant, or if you think you might be pregnant or might have gotten somebody pregnant, keep reading. You have some big decisions to make. It can seem like more than you can handle, but it doesn’t have to be.
There are many local and statewide resources to help you understand the options of how to prevent becoming pregnant, raising a child, exploring adoption, or having an abortion. To make the best decision for you, you first need all the facts.
From Sex to Pregnancy
We know that people have sex for a variety of reasons besides trying to create a baby. Having unprotected sex, however, can lead to unexpected pregnancies.
How would you know if you’re pregnant and how do you find out for sure? Here are a few common signs.
- Missing your period after sex — that’s the big one and you should probably take a pregnancy test if you’re regular period hasn’t happened.
- Discomfort — pregnant people report nausea, vomiting, and sore breasts in the early stages of pregnancy.
- Mood swings — some people get emotional in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
- Tiredness — your body is working hard to support new cells growing inside you. Pregnancy also affects your hormones and can lower your energy levels.
Home pregnancy tests are a good first step, but it’s best to confirm your results, positive or negative, with a doctor.
If you had unprotected sex in the last 72 hours, you could go to any drug store and get the Plan B pill. It’s been called the “morning after” pill because it can stop someone from getting pregnant. The sooner you take it, the better the chance of stopping an unwanted pregnancy. You don’t need a prescription and you don’t need your parents’ permission.
Since it takes two people to get pregnant, ideally the two people involved would discuss what to do next. If you’re under 18, you need to let a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult know about your situation. You can only “hide” a pregnancy for so long. The sooner you tell someone, the sooner you can come up with a plan for “what’s next.”
Adoption — If this baby wasn’t part of your plan, there are plenty of parents who would be happy to adopt a child. Organizations like Planned Parenthood can talk to you about options for your pregnancy, including adoption.
Abortion — Ending the pregnancy is another option. You can get an abortion in California without the permission of your parents or a guardian even if you’re under 18. Most family planning clinics can perform an abortion and they can’t tell your parents. Be careful of places that call themselves “crisis pregnancy centers,” “pregnancy resource centers,” or any place that focuses on changing your mind about your pregnancy. A trustworthy provider offers the information you need to make your own decision.
Raising the baby — It can be done. There are a LOT of places that offer resources to teen parents. Organizations like Generation Her help teen moms reach their education and career goals. The state has programs too like the Adolescent Family Life Program and Cal-Learn. You can also reach out to AltaMed’s Youth Services team for information about options and resources available to you.
A Pregnancy Scare?
If you thought you were pregnant, but turns out you’re not, there’s no reason to take any more chances. Unprotected sex can lead to a lot more than a baby. Protection is key. Lots of places give out condoms and can help you get birth control. They can also test you for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or HIV.
AltaMed’s Teen Center’s Got You
Sometimes it’s easier to talk to people like you and we’ve got that covered at the AltaMed Teen Center. You can also talk to our staff of health educators about sexual health, issues at home or at school, or anything you need to discuss. No judgment. No telling your parents. Just reliable information you can use to make healthy choices.
We offer free confidential sexual and reproductive health services including:
STI and HIV testing and treatment
Referrals for PrEP and PEP (daily medication to prevent HIV before or after exposure)
Did we already say it was confidential? To make an appointment or ask a question anonymously, call or text 323-786-3132.