My Experience Getting an Implanon

By Zulma R.

Zulma is a teen writer who is part of the Females Against Violence Education Group based in San Francisco. We asked this group to write about their thoughts on topics related to pregnancy, contraception, teen health, and teen rights. The thoughts below do not necessarily represent those of the National Center for Youth Law.

When I became sexually active my partner and I both talked about birth control, but I didn’t have the courage to actually go and get it. It was until we both got scared of the possibility of me being pregnant when I decided to talk to my doctor.

After I took a pregnancy test and the result was negative my doctor encouraged me to get birth control. She set me up an appointment for a teen clinic. After discussing the different forms of birth control I decided to get the Implanon.

The Implanon is a flexible implant about the size of a matchstick and is placed under the skin of the upper arm. It’s 99.9% effective and it lasts for 3 years. When I went to my appointment at the teen clinic I was asked to take another pregnancy test before we proceeded to get the Implanon just to double check.

Afterwards, the doctor gave me a room and talked to me about what the process will be like and informed me of other forms of birth control in case I didn’t want to get the Implanon. After I decided I wanted to go through with the implant, the doctor had me lie down on a hospital bed with my left arm spread. She then numbed my arm with an injection, which I thought was the most painful part of all the process. We waited for the effect a few minutes and after I was no longer able to feel anything the doctor inserted the implant on my arm through a thick needle. I did not feel a thing thanks to the injection but I still had to hold the doctor’s assistant’s hand.

After I removed the bandage from my arm the next day after getting the Implanon, I had a big bruise and it hurt a lot. My mom quickly noticed it and was really upset with me for not telling her. After a few days she began to understand me and everything was back to normal.

Everything was going great with my mom, but I had mood swings and bad cramping for the first 3 weeks after getting the implant. Today I no longer have any side effects and best of all my period is gone. I believe I made the best choice by deciding to get birth control because I am definitely not ready to be a mother and want to enjoy life without any worries.

You can learn about your right to access birth control by visiting the Birth Control section of our Legal Guide.

Teens Have a Right to Privacy Too

By Julia A.

Julia is a teen writer who is part of the Females Against Violence Education Group based in San Francisco. We asked this group to write about their thoughts on topics related to pregnancy, contraception, teen health, and teen rights. The thoughts below do not necessarily represent those of the National Center for Youth Law.

Young people have the right to choose what sexual behaviors they engage in, and they also have the right to keep that decision private. But sometimes, young people butt heads with their parents on this issue, who think they know their child well enough to say a teen isn’t ready for a sexual or physical relationship. And by ignoring the fact that young people do engage in sexual behavior sometimes, parents put their teens at risk by not letting them talk about effective ways to protect themselves against STIs and pregnancy.

The truth is, sex may not be as special or as serious to you as it may be to others, and only you can make the choice about the role sex plays in your life.  Sex is normal and healthy, and at whatever age you’re ready to start having it, sex can make a relationship more intimate and fun.  

The fact that I can go to my doctor without worrying about her telling my mom about my sex life is great.  I’m grateful, but should I be?  The right to privacy and confidentiality from your doctor is something all teens are entitled to, but few know about.

Without knowing a doctor cannot tell parents about our sex lives, young women like myself would find themselves with many questions about how to protect themselves, and no one to feel comfortable asking.  Many teens who don’t have a supportive figure like a health care provider or a parent to help them navigate this area, or who don’t get adequate sex ed from school, are left to figure it out (or not) on their own.

What do you think about the right to confidentiality for teens? Would you talk to your doctor more about sex ed? You can learn more about your privacy and confidentiality in the Privacy Section of the Youth Legal Guide.  

What Can You Do When Your Friend Struggles With Mental Health?

This piece was written by Kyle C., a youth member of the University of Michigan’s Adolescent Health Initiative’s Teen Advisory Council

Before I started high school, I did not know anyone with a mental illness. In fact, I didn’t really understand what depression and anxiety were; my seventh grade health class did not cover mental health. A lot of changes took place in high school. The most prominent change I noticed among my peers was how many of them developed mental health problems. Now, going into my senior year of high school, several of my best friends and many other classmates have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

When my best friend first told me he was depressed, I wasn’t sure how to react. I tried not to act stunned, though it was hard. I told him I was there for him if he needed anything. From then on, I made an extra effort to try to make him happy. I would text him every day with funny animal pictures or embarrassing stories from my school day.

Despite my efforts and those of his therapist and doctor, he ended up in the hospital. He called me from the ER to talk to me about his suicide attempt and to tell me he was safe. Honestly, I don’t remember what I said to him because I was so shocked. I went to visit him in the hospital, bringing him friendship bracelets, books, and pictures of us when we were younger.

This was my first introduction to how scary mental illness could be. Later, when more of my peers turned to me for support with their depression, I was better prepared. I didn’t try to understand what they were going through, because I couldn’t. I didn’t push them to talk about their illness, but instead listened to them when they wanted to discuss it. I didn’t blame myself for the times when their depression got worse because I’d learned it was never anyone’s fault.

I don’t have a magical cure for my friends’ health issues. The best piece of advice I can give to other teens who have peers with similar issues is to act normal around your friends.  Being yourself is the best thing you can do to help your friends who are struggling.  Try to keep a positive outlook on life yourself to give your friends an optimistic atmosphere to help them recover. It’s crucial to have adults in your life that you trust to talk about the emotions you feel while your friends are struggling. Whether it be a teacher or parent, you must have someone you can confide in to express worry if you feel your friend is in danger.

Those scary, dark tweets posted by your friends are a cry for help: make sure you tell an adult and check on your friend.

If you have concerns about mental health or taking care of yourself, especially if you’re pregnant or parenting, you can learn more about resources available to you in our Mental Health section. If you ever feel scared that you or your friend might do something that could really harm them, get a trusted adult or call 911. 

Why Confidentiality Matters for Teens

By Sierra Freeman

Confidentiality. This word is so important to me now as a 22-year-old woman. But I hadn’t always paid much attention to it. Why is confidentiality so important to me now? Let me backtrack to the first time it ever became relevant to my own life.

I was a sophomore in high school and I had just become sexually active with my first boyfriend. Everything was so new to me and I didn’t know much about sexual health. For the most part, things had been going smoothly until one night when a condom broke during sex and I freaked out. I had never anticipated this happening.

Immediately so many questions started going through my head. Who am I going to tell? Does this mean I am automatically pregnant? Seriously, what do I do right now? My sexual education was very primitive at the time; I seriously didn’t know the answer to these questions. I remember my boyfriend spoke to his sister, who then told me about Plan B, the emergency contraceptive that you take after having unprotected sex. All of a sudden I had this moment of relief knowing that there would be people I could talk to. However, instant panic came over me again when I thought about having to ask my parents for money or for help making an appointment. This is where confidentiality came in to save me.

Reflecting now, I realized that when you are young, you don’t feel that you can be treated as an individual with your own experiences, thoughts, and concerns. Health was not something I felt in control of in my life. I was still looking to my parents to schedule appointments for me and to provide advice or to handle my health problems. However, the moment I was faced with a problem that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with them, I freaked out because I didn’t realize that I had confidential support.

After the incident, I reached out to my boyfriend’s sister and a couple of my closest friends, who helped me feel supported and safe. They directed me to Planned Parenthood and went with me without my parent’s knowledge. I was able to get the services I needed and all of my questions and concerns were answered. I felt safe in doing so and for the first time, I was able to speak with adults about reproductive health and the options that I had as well as how to pay for it.

I never realized, until that moment, that it my sexual health was something I had always wanted to talk about, just not with my mom in the doctor’s office. In my case, Planned Parenthood was my first taste of receiving confidential services that were so crucial to me at the time. As young adults, we have the right to confidentiality. At first, I felt slightly shameful, like I was being dishonest to my parents. However, I am proud of myself for taking control of my health and my body. If there is any advice I could give to my teen self, it would be that confidentiality is my right and not something I should EVER feel bad about.

Visit our Privacy Section of the Youth Legal Guide to learn more about your rights to confidential health care.  

Q&A: What You Need to Know About Teen STD Testing

Landon Hudson is a writer for Teen Voices, the global girl news site and mentoring program of Women’s eNews. Landon is a senior at Grand Haven High School and the editor in chief of the school newspaper, The Bucs’ Blade. She is on the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association All-State journalist team. She will pursue her passion for journalism at the University of Michigan while studying communications with an emphasis on journalism. NCYL interviewed Landon about her piece “Cost and Fear Keep These Teens from STD Testing

 

1) What made you interested in working on this piece? What drew you into the topic of teen STDs and access to testing?

I think sexual health is a very important topic that is often not addressed enough among teenagers. We take a generic health class at some point in our academic career that hits on a few of the topics associated with your sexual well-being, but most of the lectures revolve around abstinence and the ‘scary’ side effects of having sex. (Editor’s Note: Landon is referring to her experience in Michigan. In California, it’s illegal for schools to teach abstinence-based sex education). I think that’s the wrong way to teach students, personally. You know they will eventually do it, so why not show them how they can be healthy and protect themselves, not just scare them.

Besides pregnancy, there are a lot of diseases and consequences that teenagers need to be aware of and often we don’t know much about them. I thought working on this piece would be a great way to inform teenage girls. I focused on the obstacles teenagers have that prevent them from getting tested or from using protection, but tried to show there are ways around these barriers.

 

2) What personal questions did you have that you were trying to answer while working on this piece? Did you find those answers? What did you learn from this experience?

I was curious to see how many teenagers actually did receive testing or took preventive measures. I found that many teens will use condoms or birth control, but they won’t get tested for STDs because they think they are already immune to them. There’s more to take into consideration when having sex besides whether to use a condom.

There should be follow-ups too. I did not think getting tested for STDs was important until I began working on this piece. This piece definitely opened up my eyes to sexually transmitted diseases. There was a lot I didn’t know about them, how they are transmitted, how common they can be, treatment options and why getting an STD test is essential.

 

3) What about working on the piece challenged your thoughts and assumptions about teen sexual health, sexual education, and STD testing for young people?

I admit I had the assumption before I worked on this piece that STD tests were uncommon and embarrassing to ask for. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I knew many teenagers had sex, but when I found out what percent of them did and what percent of those teens were tested for STDs, I was astonished. There needs to be an increase in the number of sexually active teenagers who are getting tested. Sex is common. STD tests should be too. I also thought that almost every teenager knew the effects of sexual infections, when really there are so many that are don’t have enough information on this topic, despite health class.

 

4) What experiences of your peers struck you the most? What surprised you the most?

What surprised me the most from doing this piece was how few girls were getting tested when they were sexually active. I think many of them have the assumption that STDs won’t happen to them, or that they are invincible to these kind of diseases. Girls aren’t getting tested because they don’t see the need to. Testing needs to be encouraged. Many of them didn’t know much about sexual infections or how common they are amongst teens. Granted, this may be awkward to bring up, especially with parents, but I found that a lot of girls weren’t talking about it with people they’re close to. One of the biggest barriers to getting tested was that feeling of embarrassment; they are scared of that.

 

5) What do you think still needs to be done to reduce the stigma and fear around STD testing? What strategies can make testing more comfortable or more accessible to teens? Have you seen strategies that work? That don’t work?

Sexually transmitted diseases can be an uncomfortable topic to bring up with family or doctors, but I think it needs to happen more often. Sexual health is important, just like mental or physical health. It needs to be talked about and it needs to be covered more in an in-depth way in schools. It shouldn’t be embarrassing to request an STD test; it’s part of life. Like having your teeth cleaned or getting a flu shot, testing should be on that necessary checklist. High schools should encourage sexual check-ups. STD tests should be offered at annual well-child visits, similar to vaccinations. A huge way to reduce the stigma around STD testing is by talking about it. Eventually, it won’t be uncomfortable if the topic is treated appropriately.

I have found that the girls who talk to their parents openly about their sexual health or ask to get tested are far less scared of STDs. They take preventive steps and they surround themselves with trusted adults who will help them and support them regardless. Addressing STD tests shouldn’t have to be scary. They should be treated as a normal part of life.

 

6) Having worked on this piece, what are your thoughts or advice for other teens on how to empower themselves to access safe, comfortable, and affordable STD testing?

Of course use protection when having sex, but know that condoms don’t protect against all sexually transmitted infections. Even if you are protected, you should still get tested for STDs.

Instead of acting like an STD test is a sign of failure, treat it like it’s any other ‘normal’ appointment.

Be supportive of friends if they come to you wondering whether or not they should get tested. STDs can be a big deal, getting a simple test shouldn’t be. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You should not feel embarrassed about requesting a test; they are more common than they may seem. Getting tested for STDs is a part of growing up and it can help you stay healthy.

Don’t Google any symptoms that you may have! WebMD can be great, but we all know how the results can make whatever you are experiencing seem 10 times worse. It could just freak you out more than it should. Don’t talk to a website. Talk to your doctor, teachers, family or friends. Establish open communication. Even if your parents are against it or get upset, there are clinics available for teens. There are people out there who will help you and make STD testing a lot less scary.

(Looking for a clinic to get information or get tested? Check out our Resources Map to find a clinic close to you.)

Thinking about Drinking?

This piece was written by Tommy L., a youth member of the University of Michigan’s Adolescent Health Initiative’s Teen Advisory Council

During spring break of my junior year in high school, my parents were out of town so I had the excuse to go out very late at night. I decided to go to a party. Like, those parties.

Growing up in a pretty traditional house, I was always fascinated by parties. I never had the chance to go to any, or even go out late at night. I was curious about drinking because many of my friends talked about how good it felt when you were drunk, how much fun they had, and how partying kids were cool like college kids. Teens enjoy trying new things, and I was no exception. I didn’t want to miss out or be an outcast.

As soon as I arrived at the party house, quite a few people were holding bottles of alcohol or small glass cups. They were acting strangely. One drunk girl was being extremely aggressive–she pushed a guy, who was not drunk, onto the couch and jumped on him. Then she kissed him vigorously. I didn’t think they made a mutual consent before the kiss, but the guy went along with it anyway. After they made out for a while, the guy wanted to stop. But the girl was still blacked out and didn’t let him move. Eventually, they went upstairs and continued in a room.

This was shocking to me at the time. Even as an outsider, the scene I observed made me feel uncomfortable. In my mind, I was expecting my friends to simply chat and have a good time, but in reality, there was so much sexual tension among the group. I left the party early with another friend, and I told my parents later about what I saw. We had a nice conversation about how drugs and alcohol influence sex, which strengthened our relationship and shrank the generation gap. This experience is incredibly valuable to me because I finally communicated with my parents. I realize that escaping reality through alcohol to a state of unconsciousness is relaxing, but alcohol leads to so many unexpected events and consequences that I am not ready to take the risk for.

Want to know more about how you can stay safe in a party situation or beyond? Visit our Staying Safe section of the Youth Legal Guide. 

Making the Extra Effort To Take Care Of Your Baby

Making the Extra Effort To Take Care Of Your Baby

It may be difficult for parents to remain involved in their child’s life, but putting in the extra effort to do so will make a huge difference. One young person recently told us their feelings on the importance of parents working together to to raise their child:

“In my opinion I think that all parents have to care about their child physically and financially. Even if some parents are not together, their child still needs to feel loved by both of them. And yes, they both have to help financially, even if one of them doesn’t want to be involved. And it’s very important that the parent who’s not living with their child should have times to see their child.”

Finding Helping Hands

In some cases, new parents can also turn to other people in their lives to help with caring for a baby. If you are under 18 and have a child of your own, you are still technically your parents’ responsibility. That means they have to support you, even if doing so is helping you find housing because they don’t want you to live at home anymore. If you are in foster care, refer to our Teen Parent in Foster Care and Baby in Foster Care resource pages.

One teen recently told us that Family won’t always be supportive, but it does feel nice when they are.” Another told us “my family was supportive since they day they knew I was pregnant. Even though they weren’t too happy about the news they were there for me throughout everything. I am very thankful to have a supportive family that always helps me.”

Support can come from many places. There are a ton of resources out there for new parents who need help.

If both parents aren’t together and the family isn’t being supportive, there are still programs that can help you raise your child. And if you’re dating someone new, your significant other could be a huge help in raising your child. Teachers, mentors, and other adults from community centers or programs you may be involved in can also help, even if it’s just to offer you advice.

Here are some resources to help you get more information about raising your child, how you can get help, and what rights and responsibilities you and your partner have as teen parents.

Free Programs that Give You Help

Teen Parent Rights and Responsibilities

Getting Health Care for your Baby

Finding Childcare

What are some things you’ve found helpful when raising your child? Where did you find support? Tell us in the comments below!

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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