On Love, Relationships, Sex, and Protection

This piece was written by Juli K. a youth member of the University of Michigan’s Adolescent Health Initiative’s Teen Advisory Council.  Juli attends Eastern Michigan University and is pursuing a career in social work. Since she was 17, she’s worked for adolescent sexual health under organizations such as Michigan Youth (MY) Voice and Teen Adolescent Championship Teen Advisory Council (TAC TAC). She plans to continue working with adolescent sexual health as part of her social work career. 

Do you ever think about your first love? I often think about mine from high school. Despite how things ended between us, if I had not gone through some of those experiences then I don’t think I would be the person I am today.

When I was 14, being in love was never something I would have imagined happening to me. I would watch The Notebook and The Titanic, silently protesting because I just knew that someone loving me as much as Noah loved Allie or Jack loved Rose wasn’t possible. But if you have seen these classic romance movies, you would know that despite all of the love being given and received, relationships have their consequences. I learned this firsthand with my first loving relationship.

My boyfriend at the time was a few years older than me and had already engaged in sexual activity with previous partners. Although I was always very conscious about taking care of myself, I let my guard down when it came to him. We eventually started engaging in sexual activity ourselves.

When I was 15, we had a condom break. My periods were never regular, so when my period was a few days late I didn’t really worry about it. But after that incident all I could think about was how I wanted my period to come to ease my mind. After a few weeks had passed and I still did not have a period, I sat down and questioned the possibility that I could actually be pregnant. My mom was a teen mom, and I saw how that affected me and my sisters’ lives growing up.

All of a sudden I had to think about things I never dreamed of imagining myself thinking of at 15. How would I tell my mom if I was pregnant? Would I be able to terminate the pregnancy? What if my mom and boyfriend pressured me to keep the child? What would people at school think? All the over-thinking made me nauseous.

A friend of mine picked me up one afternoon and took me to Walmart where I did my pregnancy test in the bathroom. I would not have dared to take it at home; what if my mom found it in my garbage?! So there I was, in a Walmart bathroom, peeing on a stick. I patiently waited while the lines showed up, very clearly showing that I wasn’t pregnant! I was so happy I nearly cried. It was then and there that I decided getting on birth control was something I had to do to protect myself even more if incidents like this did happen again.

Deciding to engage in sexual activity with someone is quite a big decision. It’s important to protect yourself and your partner because unfortunately, being caught in the heat of the moment can actually take a toll on your future. I’m sharing my experience not to scare people from having sex, but to raise awareness about how important it is to have protection and communication between you and your partner. Even if things feel good and right, they can still have long-term consequences that could affect your future.

For more information about your questions around sex and relationships, your rights to birth control and emergency contraception, and information about pregnancy, visit our Youth Legal Guide.

Finding Birth Control Through Planned Parenthood

Tyler S is a senior at SF State, graduating in May with a B.S in Health Education. She works as a lifeguard and swim instructor for the city of San Francisco. In her free time, she likes to go hiking, walk her dog, and go rock climbing.

When I was about 15 ½ I decided I was ready to have sex with my boyfriend at the time. We used condoms for a while and then decided it was time for me to be on birth control. I did not want to ask my parents because I was not sure how they would have reacted and I did not want to get in trouble with them.

So instead an older friend and my boyfriend recommended I go to Planned Parenthood. They told me they would give me birth control for free and it be confidential so my parents couldn’t find out. So we went and waited and I was able to go on birth control.

The whole experience was a bit nerve racking but my friend and boyfriend came with me so that definitely calmed my nerves. Also the people at the Planned Parenthood were so understanding. My parents had not found out that I was having sex or on birth control for a long time; I think I was about 17 when they found out. Turns out my mom was really chill about it and kind of bummed that I did not tell her. Though she was happy that I was protected and taking birth control.

Click here for more resources and information about accessing and using birth control.

What is child abuse?

Child abuse is when abuse or violence happens to a minor. No matter who is doing it, the law protects you and your baby from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, harassment, domestic violence, and stalking.

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When is sex considered child abuse?

Mandated reporters must tell the police or CPS if they “reasonably suspect” child abuse. Child abuse can mean physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and sometimes even sex that you agreed to have.

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What if the hospital sends me a bill?

If the hospital sends you a bill from when you gave birth, call the hospital immediately to tell them that you need to apply for Medi-Cal to pay for the delivery. They may have people to help you apply.

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What is supervised visitation?

Supervised visitation is when another adult stays with the child and parent when they visit to make sure the child is safe. If you are worried about the child’s safety, you can ask the court for supervised visitation.

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Is HIV different from other STIs?

HIV is an Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) but unlike most STIs, it does not have a cure. HIV can cause a person to get AIDS, which people can die from. Although HIV/AIDS does not currently have a cure, it can be treated.

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Will anyone find out if I have an STI?

Generally, no one can find out if you have an STI unless you want them to, because that information must be kept confidential unless you give permission for it to be shared. But some STIs are “reportable diseases.” That means the state health system wants to keep track of them and control their spread.

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Do I have to get tested for HIV?

No. In most cases, you decide whether to get tested for HIV. If you decide not to get tested, it is against the law for a health care provider to test you without your permission.

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What is a Crisis Pregnancy Center?

Avoid Crisis Pregnancy Centers!

Crisis Pregnancy Centers say they will help you if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant. But they are not medical providers and they usually just try to stop people from getting abortions.  They also have been known to lie to you!

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