I'm scared to lose my virginity because I'm scared I will get pregnant the first time I ever do it because that's the kind of luck I have – Anonymous
Dear Anonymous – I’m really glad you asked this question. Sex can be amazing, but being ready for any kind of sex is more than just making physical and emotional connections. It also means you and your partner are taking responsibility for using the right contraception and STI prevention–which I know can sometimes be confusing and awkward.
I have TOTALLY been there myself, and I’m really ashamed to say that the first time I had intercourse I used no birth control at all. So stupid and scary, and I was very lucky to not get pregnant or get an STI*. I did NOT make that mistake again. I immediately scheduled my first gynecologist appointment and decided to go on the pill (and never got pregnant). That was the right choice for me at the time, but everyone's situation is different.
One little thought: Having any kind of sex for the first time can sometimes be scary, or make us nervous. Think about whether fear of pregnancy is masking some other deeper concerns about being intimate. I'll leave that there for you to ponder and get on to the birth control info.
First of all, the best way not to get pregnant is not to have intercourse (Jane The Virgin doesn’t count) but if you do want to have intercourse, birth control should never, ever be a matter of luck. It’s about educating yourself on the best BC option for you, and then using it exactly as directed. Despite what abstinence-until-marriage programs teach, contraception is safe and effective when used correctly (and a lot safer than going through a pregnancy).
A great place to start is with this handy guide from our friends at Scarleteen. It walks you through questions about what’s most useful and healthy for YOU and gives lots of suggestions on what to use. Planned Parenthood also has a great guide as does Bedsider.
Once you have an idea of what works best for you, go see your health care provider. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Planned Parenthood office, they’ll be happy to help you, and it will be less expensive. Stay way clear of Crisis Pregnancy Centers which advertise the same services but then give you misinformation and shame instead of contraception.
One other thing to consider: If you’re having sex within a relationship and your birth control costs a bit of cash, it’s only fair that your partner helps pay for it. Just because you’re the one who can get pregnant, it doesn’t mean it’s not his responsibility as well.
*Don’t forget Sexually Transmitted Infections, which can be an even bigger risk than pregnancy because you don’t have to have intercourse to get infected. Condoms are the only way to protect yourself against those so have your partner keep using them. Also, because no BC is absolutely 100% effective (although many come very close), condoms can be a great backup.