Sexual Health and Teenage Pregnancy

When you’re a teenager, it can be difficult to escape the subject of sex. Your friends talk about it, you see it in films and on the TV, and you read about it in magazines.

You may feel that everyone else your age is already having sex, and that you are being left behind. But the reality is very different. In fact, two thirds of young people don’t have sex until they are 16 or over. And remember that just because someone tells you they’re having sex, doesn’t mean they are.

If you feel under pressure to have sex, you’re not alone. It’s very common for people your age to feel pushed into having sex by their boyfriend or girlfriend, or their friends. But it is a very big decision that only you can make. You should make it in your own time, and on your own terms.

Often, young people feel confused about their sexuality. If you have feelings for someone of the same sex, you might feel isolated, or even frightened. The chances are that you are too scared to tell anyone, as you’re worried about how they’ll react. But remember: feelings like this are perfectly normal. And there are people you can talk to about them, in complete confidence.

Before you have sex, it’s important to understand what it is all about. You also need to be aware of the risks.

Risks

  • The sooner you start having sex, the more likely you are to become a teenage parent. Having a baby is a big responsibility. If you’re young, it can damage your health. It can also affect your education, and your chances of getting the job you want later in life. What’s more, it will probably mean missing out on a whole heap of fun with your friends
  • If you have a child when you’re a teenager, the baby is likely to have fewer opportunities in life and may develop problems with his or her health or behaviour, and is more likely to become a teenage parent as well
  • If you have unprotected sex, you are at risk of catching sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV and AIDS. You may also catch infections such as chlamydia, which can affect your chances of having a baby later in life.
  • When you're young, you are more likely to have unprotected sex. You are also more likely to have sex that you’ll later regret – for example, if you have been drinking or taking drugs
  • If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend who is much older than you, you’re more likely to feel pushed into having sex before you are ready

Keeping yourself safe

  • If you don’t feel ready for sex, be prepared to say ‘no’. Don’t let anyone push you into having sex – it’s your decision, and nobody else’s
  • Don’t have unprotected sex. If you are thinking of having sex, always talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend beforehand about contraception. 
  • There are lots of different type of contraception available and using a condom will help to protect you against STIs
  • Avoid taking drugs, or drinking too much. Both can lead you to have sex that you may later regret
  • If you are unsure about your sexuality and/or having confusing feelings, it can help to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. This could be a counsellor, or someone else who has experienced the same things as you
  • If you are being bullied because of your sexuality, tell someone you trust –like a parent, a teacher or a friend. And, if they don’t help you, tell someone else

Where to get help

Dorset Contraception & Sexual Health Services (C&SH)

Provides contraception, emergency contraception, free condoms, pregnancy testing, referrals for termination of pregnancy and smear tests.
Free chlamydia screeing is available for under-25s.
To find your nearest clinic, call: 0300 303 1948
 

Sexual Health/GUM Services

Testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and HIV. Free condoms, hormonal emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, pregnancy counselling, abortion referral, sexual counselling and therapy.
To find your nearest clinic, call: 01305 762 682