The Truth about Teen Pregnancy

May 05, 2021

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.

Couple Outside Teen Pregnancy

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.

Holding Hands Teen Pregnancy

Options

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.

Building Teen Pregnancy Blog

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:

  • Health education

  • Birth control

  • Condoms

  • Emergency contraception

  • Pregnancy testing

  • 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.

You have rights and there are laws protecting your sexual health. Contact the ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.

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Pandemic Pregnancies: What You Need to Know

September 17, 2020

Even during the pandemic and everything else that’s happening in our country right now – to quote that dinosaur movie – life finds a way. Women are getting pregnant, and others are continuing to try to become pregnant.

To put it mildly, these are not the best of times. However, it’s still possible to have a normal pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Read on to learn more about the impact of your choice.

A word of note: no matter what’s happening in the world, it’s a good idea to have a frank discussion with your doctor and your partner before attempting to become pregnant. None of this information is a substitute for those conversations, just information to consider.

If You’re Not Yet Pregnant, But Want to Be

If you and your partner stay healthy, COVID-19 itself will not affect your ability to conceive (though there is scientific research that shows a link between too much stress and infertility). But many doctors and health care specialists are urging women to reconsider and postpone their efforts until things have settled down – unless you’re a woman in your late 30s or older who may have trouble or needs extra time to conceive.

COVID-19 hasn’t just made an impact on health, it has badly damaged our economy and jeopardized funding for public programs, had a significant impact on our health care system, and profoundly affected almost every part of life in this country. Even though there is much reason to hope and believe we’ll have a vaccine near the end of this year, it’s still too early to predict anything. Among the facts you will need to consider:

  • Once you are pregnant, you will have to see the doctor regularly to protect your health and the health of your baby. Though some of these visits can be done with a telehealth screening, many of these visits will have to be in-person. AltaMed and other health facilities are taking precautions to keep patients and staff safe, but it is impossible to,eliminate every risk.
  • The costs of trying to get pregnant, getting prenatal care, and then delivery and after can add up. If your job or your health insurance aren’t secure, it may be tough to pay for.
  • As Los Angeles struggles with coronavirus and we are asked to avoid unnecessary trips, you may find yourself with less in-person support from friends and family. And, whether you’re trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, or already have a baby, mixing with people outside of your household could potentially expose you to COVID-19.

If You’re Already Pregnant, There are Risks, But They’re Low

Section 1Congratulations if you’re a mom-to-be. If you stay healthy, coronavirus probably won’t jeopardize your pregnancy or your baby. Even if you do get coronavirus, the risk of transmitting it to your baby is very low. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many high-quality scientific studies to shed light on all of the potential risks.

However, if you do contract coronavirus and develop serious symptoms, this may increase your risks for pregnancy complications, including pre-term birth. More intensive research is needed to confirm, but scientists also believe that simply being pregnant can make you vulnerable to more severe cases of COVID-19.

All of the precautions for people who want to become pregnant apply here, too. Even though you will likely be at home, caring for your infant for some time, professional child-care could be a big question mark. Even asking your closest relatives for help could expose you and your baby to COVID-19 risks, unless they are already living in your household.

Still Not Sure? Talk to Your Doctor

Section 2Even if you already have children, the decision to get pregnant can change your life and your family, and that’s especially true now. Talk to your doctor. Having an informed medical opinion about your unique health history and risks, as well as the current state of COVID-19, may help you make up your mind. And if you are already pregnant, rest assured knowing that AltaMed is here for all your prenatal care needs.

Doctors and public health officials urge everyone, including those who are pregnant or wish to be, to get their flu shots early this year. Schedule an appointment to get your immunizations today. Flu shots are safe for pregnant woman and their babies, no matter what trimester. It’s one more way to protect yourself and your entire family.

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.

Adolescent and Teen Physicals during a Pandemic

March 17, 2021

As parents know all too well, adolescent and teen bodies undergo many changes as they grow into early adulthood. From hormonal shifts that can affect their moods to growth spurts leaving closets full of outgrown clothes, this time in your child’s life can keep parents on their toes. It’s all part of a normal developmental phase and it is important to make sure your child is growing healthy.

As we approach the one-year mark of our fight against COVID-19, many teens and adolescents have gone without their regular pediatrician visits and checkups due to concerns around coronavirus. However, parents should still schedule regular physical examinations, including well-child visits, immunizations, and oral health care appointments. AltaMed is taking necessary COVID-19 precautions to help keep families safe during this time.

Doctor with clipboard
Pediatricians can help with a wide variety of health concerns. When necessary, they can also refer patients to a specialist.

Start with a Pediatrician Visit

Even through the teenage years and into the early twenties, your kids’ bodies and brains are changing. Regular and routine exams can help them grow healthy into adulthood. Our pediatricians will take good care of your kids (up until age 21) by reviewing their available health history, looking for early signs of health risks, and making sure they’re getting age-appropriate care. They can also help monitor all of the things listed below.

Fruite adolescent physicals
A well-balanced diet is an essential part of adolescent health. Doctors can make recommendations about what foods children should eat or avoid. 

Weight and Nutrition 

Even before the pandemic, childhood obesity was a growing problem, and it can have lasting physical and emotional effects. Regular physical examinations give your doctor the chance to monitor weight and BMI (body mass index), and open a dialogue about nutrition and exercise that can help your child develop healthy habits for life.​

Woman pointing adolescent
Ask your doctor what vaccines children should be receiving. As they age, kids will become eligible for a variety of important immunizations.

​Vaccinations 

Despite all the focus on the coronavirus, other viruses and diseases have not taken a break. Teens and adolescents still need their routine, age-appropriate immunizations. This year, it’s more important than ever that every member of your family gets their flu shot. Your teen or adolescent may need other routine vaccines to protect against:

Talk to your doctor to find out about “makeup” Tdap shots to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. 

Woman on couch
​A large number of adolescents struggle mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. If you suspect your child is suffering, don’t wait to speak with a professional.

Mental Health

This is a stressful time for everyone, your teen included. With many of the support systems they’ve come to rely on like sports, the arts, or a worship community drastically changing or no longer available, teens can have a difficult time coping and their mental health may be suffering. Depression and anxiety are common, even pre-pandemic.

Half of all mental health disorders start by age 14 yet many go unrecognized or untreated, and even more concerning, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teens. 

In this new environment, a routine physical exam is a window of opportunity where a doctor can check in with your teen and ensure they are adapting to stressors and a largely changing environment in a healthy way. 

Taking Control of Their Own Health

As they grow, teens and adolescents have their own questions about their bodies, and the routine physical checkup provides a perfect opportunity for them get answers and start to take ownership for their own health and well-being.

Boy with mask adolescen
Letting your child take an active role in their healthcare will help them build good habits for the future.

This is an important life skill that can lead to a healthy, lifelong curiosity and proactivity around their health. 

​As a parent, you know your child’s health needs are constantly growing and evolving, just like they are. Make sure your child is scheduled to have their regular physical examinations and have the peace of mind knowing AltaMed is here to safely monitor their development and nurture a positive relationship between your teen and their ever-changing health needs. 

For more information about services or to schedule your appointment (888) 499-9303.