Safe sex is the best sex. And there are a bunch of ways to protect yourself, your partner, and get a piece of that safe sex that everyone’s talking about. This special zone of The Playbook – the Guide for Girls – is here to give you tips on how to stay healthy.
Feel good about taking control of your life and your choices! If you have questions about any of this stuff, don’t be afraid to connect – talk to a trusted adult or head to a doctor.
Let’s get started!
Got Questions? Health Pros Are Here For You
If you have questions about acne, growth spurts, nutrition or any other health topics, ask your doctor! Doctors are more than willing to help; it’s what they do!
In North Carolina, you can visit a doctor to talk about sexual health (like STIs and pregnancy prevention), mental health, and substance abuse without a parent’s permission. No one has to know unless you want them to.
It’s important to ask your doctor questions. Don’t be scared, they’ve heard it all! Your body (and any questions you might have about it) isn’t embarrassing. You can’t embarrass them with anything that’s happening with your body, even the stuff that seems more private – like heavy periods, sex stuff, feeling anxious or depressed, or a pregnancy scare. Feeling comfortable with a doctor is a big part of getting the health stuff you need.
No, the Internet cannot tell you if you are sick. Reading stuff on the Internet can’t confirm a pregnancy or diagnose you with a disease. Only a doctor can!
If you think something is wrong with your body, speak up! You are your best supporter and your loudest voice when it comes to your health. You have every right to be healthy, happy and safe.
You Have So Much Control!
Did you know? You have the right to talk privately with your doctor about a lot of topics!
At any age:
In North Carolina you can do any of these without a parent’s permission:
- See a doctor for sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing or treatment, birth control, pregnancy tests, prenatal care, substance abuse treatment or outpatient mental health treatment.
- Get birth control from a doctor. Your options include IUDs, the implant, the shot and other prescription-based birth control methods like the pill.
- Purchase most types of emergency contraception—including Plan B One Step®, Next Choice ONE DOSE®, My Way®, morning-after pills, and other emergency contraception using levonorgestrel—at the store without a prescription, regardless of sex or gender.
- Get a prescription for ella® emergency contraception.
Before age 16: You cannot, by law, agree to have sex. This is called the “age of consent” and it protects kids and younger teens from abuse and manipulation.
Before age 18: You need a parent’s permission to get health care other than for the reasons listed above. Other types of health care include being sick or needing a sports physical.
If you’re 18 or older: You are a legal adult & you can do whatever you want (except drink alcohol or rent a car).
You actually have even more rights! Check out Your Rights to learn more about teens’ rights in North Carolina.
You’ve probably had warm/likey/sexy feelings for people since puberty. Now that you’re a little older, you’re learning more about what you like, who you want to be and starting to think about what you want out of life. You still have crushes (you probably always will), but your relationships might be getting a bit more real.
Relationships can be awesome – but not all of them are healthy. Both guys and girls can experience abuse. Here are some good and bad things you might see in a relationship:
Signs of a healthy relationship:
- trusting your partner
- open, honest conversations & talks
Signs of abuse:
- physical violence
- emotional manipulation
- pressure to have sex
- messing with your partner’s condoms or birth control
- controlling where you go, what you wear or who you hang out with
When it comes to sex, you have a right to decide when you do it, where you do it and how you do it. So does your partner. Giving and getting permission to have sexual contact with someone is called consent. It goes way beyond “no means no”. In the real world, the smartest rule to follow is anything other than yes means no.
So how do you get consent? Ask! And how do you give consent? Say what you want! Make talking a part of sex. Here are some ways to do it:
- “Is it okay with you if…?”
- “What do you like?”
- “I’ve always wanted to try ___ what do you think?”
- “This feels good for me, does it feel good for you?”
- “Are you comfortable with this?”
- “How do you feel about this?”
- “Do you like this?”
It might feel awkward at first, but good sex actually requires good communication. Make asking questions like, “What do you like?” just as big a part of your sex routine as “I’ve been tested for STIs, how ‘bout you?” and “Just so you know, I use an IUD” and “Do you have condoms, or should we use one of mine?”.
So here it is again, because it’s super important: Anything other than a “yes” is a “no”.
Worried About Something Down There?
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are pretty common, and they’re spread by sexual contact (usually vaginal, anal or oral sex, but depending on the STI, they can be spread through touching or kissing).
It’s easy to think that STIs can’t happen to you, but the threat is real—teens and young adults account for 50% of all new STI cases in the U.S. They can also do real harm to your and your partner’s health, so take steps to protect yourselves.
If you’re worried that you might have an STI, go see a doctor. Some STIs have obvious symptoms, but many don’t show symptoms at all. The sooner you get tested, the sooner you can get back to living your best life.
So how do you avoid STIs?
- Use latex condoms correctly every time you have sex, even if you use another birth control method.
- Get tested regularly and make sure your partner does too.
- Get treatment if you need it.
- Talk to your partner regularly about keeping sex safe.
Places like your local health department offer free or low-cost STI testing. Use our nifty search tool to find a doc.
Find It, Love It
Birth control options can seem overwhelming, but it’s a major part of your sexual health. Whether you’re having sex now or waiting until later, it’s good to know what your choices are so you can stay safe, healthy and baby-free.
Be prepared to shop around. Sometimes the first method you try isn’t your favorite, and that’s okay. There are so many methods out there; you’ll find the one that’s right for you.
Birth Control Options
IUD: Whoops-proof birth control for up to 12 years.
Implant: Whoops-proof birth control for up to 3 years.
Shot: Injection from a doctor every 3 months.
Ring: Swap it out every 3 weeks.
Patch: Stick one on each week for 3 weeks.
Pill: The good ole pill! Take it every day.
Emergency Contraception: You can get most kinds without a prescription at any age. The sooner you take it, the more effective it is.
Double Up for STI Protection
Use a condom every time you have sex, even when you use another birth control method!
The female condom: It’s another option that puts YOU in control of the condom game.