Falling pregnant when you are a teenager will affect the rest of your life, but there are ways to keep yourself safe from an unplanned pregnancy.
There are various ways to prevent teenage pregnancy, including choosing not to have sex until you are married or ready to have children.
Some people think that abstinence (choosing to not have sex until you are married) is old-fashioned, while others think it is morally the best thing to do. Teenagers, however, need to decide for themselves.
Many people do not want to wait until they are married before having sex. They also do not want to rush into anything and make costly mistakes. They often decide that delaying having sex until they are older, more responsible, in a stable relationship with one partner and have a job, is the best thing to do.
If you choose abstinence or delaying sex, there are other things you can do to protect yourself:
- Choose your friends carefully. Friends should want what is best for you and should respect your decision not to have sex.
- Beware of situations that could be unsafe, like friends drinking or taking drugs, that could lead to unsafe sex.
- Beware of partners who claim that you will sleep with them if you love them.
- Listen to and learn from those who have gone through teenage pregnancy. They know the mistakes and disadvantages.
- Listen to and learn from your parents about their life experiences.
If you decide that abstinence and delaying sex are not the best decisions for you and you would rather not wait, take the time to learn about protection, including contraception, which is using a method (mechanical or chemical) to prevent pregnancy.
There are various contraceptives that work in different ways, but they are all designed to prevent pregnancy. They include oral contraception, known as ‘the pill’; injectable contraception; and male and female condoms.
What can I do if I’m pregnant?
If you think you might be pregnant, take someone you trust with you to your nearest clinic to have a pregnancy test.
Antenatal care (taking care of the unborn baby) is important and usually starts at eight weeks. Your local clinic can help you with antenatal care and a healthcare worker will assist you to develop a plan that is suitable for you and your baby.
If you are pregnant, it is important to eat healthy nutritious food, exercise, get enough sleep and avoid drugs and alcohol.
*This information was supplied by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.