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March 13, 2018
Art by McKenzie M.
One of the most common fears about being sexually active is unplanned pregnancy, especially for teens. Horror stories of teen girls having to give up their education and young life to raise a child are all too common in the media, from television shows, news articles, movies, and even books.
For many sexually active girls, including Sarah*, the possibility of getting pregnant is a constant fear. Despite using “the pill,” there is still always a tiny inkling of fear in the back of her mind.
“As a female, especially at a young age, when you’re sexually active, it’s something you always worry about…I’m a very dramatic person so my period will be late one day and I’ll think ‘oh my god that’s it I’m pregnant,’ even if I’m not. You overhype it, because it’s such a big deal, but then it turns out to be nothing,” said Sarah.
Sarah became sexually active when she was 15 years old, and at the beginning was terrified of becoming pregnant. She would immediately assume the worst. She’s very open with her boyfriend about her fears and has told him every time she has had a scare.
“I’ve told my boyfriend every single time, and he’s gotten over it by now, he knows it’s nothing. But at the beginning it obviously scared him. Talking about that with someone is nerve wracking. Obviously it’s good to talk about it, but when it could be his baby too, obviously he gets concerned and worried,” said Sarah.
For her, the fear of teen pregnancy doesn’t make her rethink her decision to be sexually active. It’s more of an afterthought.
“When you’re in the moment, you don’t think about that. It’s afterwards is when you think about it,” said Sarah.
She said that if she ever turned out to be pregnant, she would probably get an abortion. She explained how she doesn’t think she could deal with the immense toll pregnancy takes on a person’s life and knows she isn’t fit to be a mother yet.
“I’d be the worst mother in the world right now, and my boyfriend isn’t ready to be a father. Also I don’t think you should be embarrassed to say ‘I need to do what’s best for myself and what’s best for my life.’ As a woman in today’s society and past society you’re expected to be unselfish and do everything for everyone else,” she said.
Sarah isn’t alone as a sexually active teenager. The average woman loses her virginity at 17 years old. She advises to only become sexually active when you personally feel ready and to only have sex with someone you know well and trust.
“Get on birth control for sure if you’re having sex, or use condoms. Be responsible and be safe. I’m safe, I’m just dramatic. Don’t worry too much and let it take over your life. If you’re being safe and using contraceptives the odds are so small, but they’re still there so be careful,” said Sarah.
The lack of in-depth sexual education in American schools, coupled with the taboo surrounding teenagers and sex is the cause of high teenage pregnancy rates in the US. Sarah took sexual education middle school, and felt it was lacking in useful information about safe sex. She took health over the summer and says that that class didn’t have a comprehensive sex-ed portion.
“I feel sex-ed [in midle school] was really lacking…they really preach abstinence if talking about sex at all,” Sarah said.
According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, comprehensive sex education has shown to lower the amount of teen pregnancy, not increase the risk of teenagers being sexually active. Abstinence only programs are not only inaccurate, but dangerous for today’s teens. A lack of education does not decrease the amount of teens having sex, it only puts them more at risk to not use protection, spreading STD’s and causing unplanned pregnancies.
“If you’re responsible enough be having sex you should be responsible enough to educate yourself…there is some responsibility for schools, but then again I mean there’s Google now, so there’s no excuse to not be educated,” Sarah said.