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Safer Sex

Safer Sex

Preventing Pregnancy

Did You Know?

In Washington State, all minors are allowed to get birth control without their parents’ involvement. You don't need permission, and your doctor won't tell them that you're on birth control. But if you feel comfortable, talking to a parent or other adult about your options can be helpful. 

How Do I Get Free Birth Control?

Through a program called Take Charge, both guys and girls may be eligible for free birth control, and girls can get an annual exam. Take Charge is available across Washington State. To find a Take Charge provider near you, call our hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or check here.

Your regular medical provider can also help you get birth control. If they don’t offer birth control options, you can go to a clinic that offers family planning. Many family planning clinics and community clinics offer sexual health services and birth control based on a sliding fee scale. Depending on your income, you may be required to pay only a part of the total cost of the visit and the birth control. Some clinics also provide appointments and birth control for free! To find a clinic that offers a sliding fee scale, use our Resource Finder. A family planning specialist can also help you if you want to know about sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, or have a female annual exam.

What Are My Choices?

Choosing when to have sex and what birth control to use is a very personal decision that no one else can make for you. Taking the pill and using condoms are the most popular birth control methods among teens, but there are other options available, too. Keep reading to find out about different options and where to get them.

For Girls

Women have a lot of choices when it comes to birth control! You can choose between hormonal methods that prevent you from releasing an egg every month (like the pill, the patch, the ring, or the “shot”), and barrier methods that don’t let the egg and sperm meet (like male and female condoms, and diaphragms). Some people really like the long-acting methods like IUDs and implants because they are very effective and “forgettable” once you start them. If you’re not ready to be a parent, make sure you protect yourself. You can work with your partner to figure out which method makes the most sense for you, but remember that it's up to you and you have the final say. Lots of birth control methods are very effective, but none are 100%. You might feel safer using two kinds--like condoms and the pill--to prevent pregnancy. 

When choosing a birth control method, consider if it also helps prevent STIs, what side effects it has, how much it costs, and how well it works. Think about if it will let you be spontaneous, and if anyone else can tell you are using it. To learn the details about all your options and hear about people’s real experiences with birth control, go to Bedsider.org.

For Guys

Guys don’t have as many choices for birth control as women do, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be involved in the process! You always have the option of using a condom. You have the right to tell your partner what method you’d like her to use, but she has the final say. Your partner gets to make her own choices about her body. Her birth control choice will be more successful if you support her in using it correctly. If you’re not ready to be a parent, make sure you protect yourself and talk about birth control with your partner. 

“No, Not Right Now”

Whether you’ve had sex before or not, you can always decide you don’t want to now. Not having sex is the only 100% effective form of birth control. You might say no to having sex with someone because of the time, the place, the person, or because you don’t have birth control ready. No reason is stupid. You always have the right to say, “No, not right now.” You should never do something sexually that you’re not comfortable with. There are a lot of ways other than sex to show someone that you like them. Talk with your partner before you get into a sexy situation, and be very clear about the limits you want to set.

If you have sex without using birth control, or you think you used birth control wrong, go to your backup plan! Emergency Contraception can help prevent a pregnancy if taken within five days after sex.
Find out where to get it.

How Do I Talk to My Partner and My Parents?

Although you make the ultimate decision about using birth control, it can be helpful to talk to your partner, your parents, or another trusted adult. They can help you think about what would be right for you, and how to get all the information you need. Remember, all adults were teens at some point and went through some of the same things you’re facing. Sometimes sex can be hard to talk about, but you can get through it together. You might feel nervous or embarrassed, and it’s okay to say that. These sites have some good tips:

Myths About Sex and Pregnancy

There is a lot of false information out there about sex, birth control, and pregnancy. Make sure that you know the facts so that you can make the right decision for yourself and your relationship.  Here are some common ones:

  • Myth: You can't get pregnant the first time you have sex.
  • Fact: There is a chance of getting pregnant any time you have sex.
  • Myth: "Pulling out" is a good method of birth control.
  • Fact: Pulling out might decrease your chances of getting pregnant, but it should never be the only method of birth control you use. 
  • Myth: All teenagers are having sex.
  • Fact: You might be surprised to know that many teens aren't having sex--in fact, less than 50% of high schoolers report that they have had sex. If you want to wait, you are in good company!

Learn More

Are you ready to be a parent or have another child? Is that in your plan right now?

Learn more about ways to show you care without having sex.

You don’t get pregnant the second you have unprotected sex. Watch this video for a refresher on how pregnancy happens.

The majority of high school students who are having sex use condoms. Do you know how to use a condom correctly? 

Taking care of your sexual health isn’t just for women. Read about the different health services for both women and guys here.