This article was written in collaboration with Dr Jo Leach, a family GP based in the Cape Town City Bowl.
No matter how experienced you are, sex is something you should only enter into if you are confident and sure that you want to. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before you go for it. Are you ready to be in a sexual relationship? Is your partner ready? Is this something that you really want? If you can confidently answer yes to all of those questions, then we can move on. If not, don’t let anyone pressure you into doing anything that you’re not ready for. Sex is more emotional and psychological than you might realise right now, and it’s important to feel sure about it before you take this big step.
Use a condom
No matter what contraceptive you end up using, it’s important to continue using condoms. As Dr Leach says, “rather double up on the contraceptive method [and] protect from STIs.” Contraceptives prevent pregnancy, but they do not prevent the transfer and spread of STIs including HIV. Condoms also help as an extra precaution in the event that your contraception is compromised. None of the methods below are 100% secure, so until you are emotionally and financially ready to have children, it’s wise to use as many methods as possible to prevent pregnancy.
Choosing the right contraceptive for you
Contraceptives prevent pregnancy, and can also be used to regulate menstruation, deal with problematic skin and a variety of other things. Contraceptives are usually taken by women but benefit both men and women by preventing pregnancy in appropriate situations. Dr Leach recommends involving at least one of your parents in your decision to start contraception, but “in terms of the law, under the Children's Act of 2005, a child at the age of 12 and older can request contraception” without parental involvement. Here are a few options:
Remember that your health is one of your most important assets, and it’s your responsibility to keep yourself safe. If you truly feel that you are ready to be in a sexual relationship, you need to find the contraceptive that works best for you and your body.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.