How can I protect myself if I am ready for sex

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When you decide you are ready for a sexual relationship, you must protect yourself against pregnancy and disease. There are many ways to make sex safer. This means you have to plan before you have sex.

Talk to your boyfriend before you have sex. Let him know how important it is to protect yourself. If you find it hard to discuss, perhaps you can first pretend you are talking about another couple. If he really cares about you, he will want to protect you. If he is pushing for sex, he may care only about himself.

Many communities have people who are trained to provide condoms and other family planning methods. Talk to them or ask a health worker where to get a method of protection. If you feel embarrassed to ask, find someone you trust to help you. Some family planning clinics have special services for teenagers and may have trained teenagers as peer counselors who can give you information.

Since you cannot tell by looking if a man has a sexually transmitted infection or HIV, sex is safer only if you use a condom every time. If a man has a discharge coming from his penis or a sore somewhere on it, he has an infection and will almost certainly give it to you!

If you had sex and notice a new discharge from your vagina, sores on your genitals, or pain in your lower belly, you could have an STI.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en020813