Planning For Your Sexual Health, Post-Graduation and Beyond
This article discusses a mature topic. Our 17-year old and younger readers are encouraged to read this with an adult.
Congratulations to the class of 2014! Graduation is an important milestone and a time to reflect on all that you’ve accomplished, as well as think about where you’re headed. It might be college, a new job, or just taking some time to figure it out.
Wherever you’re headed (or even if you’re just celebrating someone else’s graduation), graduation season is the perfect time to start planning ahead – and that includes thinking about your sexual health decisions. Though sex ed classes often focus on methods of pregnancy prevention, it’s hard to know what’s right for you if you haven’t thought about if or when you want to start a family. Your plans might change later on, and that’s totally okay. The important thing is to start thinking about your goals and what you’ll need to achieve them. And though we may hear that only girls need to think about this, we know this is important for everyone.
In this month’s Ask Elizabeth column, I’ll be focusing on helping you plan for your future—whatever it involves. If you have questions that you’d like to see answered in this column, send them to me at AskElizabeth@pp-la.org.
When you’re thinking about your future, and when (or if) you want to have a family, think about these questions. And if you have a partner right now, talk about these questions with them, too.
What kind of relationship do I want?
- Do I want to be in a relationship? When?
- What do I expect from a partner?
- What can my partner expect from me?
- What am I looking for in a relationship?
Do I want to have a family?
- Do I want to have any (more) children? When?
- What do I want to achieve before I have (more) kids?
- How many children do I want?
- If I’m having sex, what will I do to prevent pregnancy until I’m ready to be a parent?
I know these are really tough questions, and you might not know the answer right now. But start thinking about them and come up with a plan for yourself. Everyone has different goals in life, and everyone has the right to decide what those are.
How can birth control help with my plan?
Talk to a health care provider about your future goals to find out what might help you reach them. If you know when you want to be pregnant, it’s easier to choose a birth control method that will work best for you and will help you wait until you’re ready.
There are a ton of birth control methods available that can help prevent pregnancy until you’re ready to become a parent. Each method is different. Some methods can last all four years of college, while others are shorter-term. If you know you’d like to finish school, start work, or travel the world before starting or expanding your family, methods like the implant or IUD are great options that can last from 3-10 years. If you’d prefer a method for a shorter time, the pill, patch, ring, or condoms are also great options. It’s up to each person to decide what’s best for them.
And remember, no matter what your goals are, it’s always important to protect yourself and your partner against sexually transmitted diseases. Use male or female condoms and/or dental dams every time you sex.