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After Abstinence, Emergency Contraception

By , 18, Contributor Originally Published: March 16, 2007 Revised: December 10, 2013

In middle school, we were required to take a class that taught us “teen-living skills.” In between learning proper placement of forks and knives, there was a brief mention of the word “sex.” To sum up the lesson, we were taught that sex was something that would either get us pregnant or infected with a sexually transmitted infection. After a harrowing experience watching a birthing video from the business end of the ordeal, I decided that was for me.

I joined the abstinence club in eighth grade and continued my membership throughout sophomore year of high school. I thrived in an environment where I was surrounded by people who shared my beliefs. I kept my grades up and life was really good.

Then junior year arrived and things began to change. I started working and taking advanced classes to challenge my mind. I had to give up my club activities in order to balance schoolwork and life. Without the constant support of those clubs, I began to drift, unsure of myself in the real world.

Despite my conviction that I was prepared to have sex, I discovered the opposite was true.

Finding My Own Path

I was faced with temptations and pressures that, until then, I had managed to avoid. I began to question the reasons for my beliefs. While girls my age were out having fun and experiencing things that I longed for, I was either working or studying. Free time was a rare thing for me; my social life nonexistent.

I began to feel like I was missing something important. So, during my senior year in high school, I made positive changes. I got a new job and began to make up for lost time with friends. I applied and was accepted to college; my hard work was paying off. One weekend, I decided to celebrate and go on a camping trip with friends.

There, I met Ryan. He was a year older and handsome—a “tough” guy who got misty-eyed at romantic movies. I really enjoyed being with him, and we managed to have a normal relationship, despite the fact that he was attending technical college two hours away.

Ryan amazed me at every turn. We had a serious discussion about sex, and he admitted he was a virgin. Despite his worldliness and considerable intelligence, he was as ignorant about sex as I.

Abstinence Left Me in the Dark

At this point, I had decided that my commitment to abstinence had been a waste of time. But, despite my disillusionment, I wasn’t quite ready to give up my virginity, even to someone I cared deeply about. I was, however, prepared to explore sex. One night, though, my curiosity went too far, and I lost my virginity.

I say “too far” because of the effect it had on my emotions. Despite my conviction that I was prepared to have sex, I discovered the opposite was true. I was ashamed to have given up something precious on a whim, and I was terrified because we had unprotected sex.

The possibility of pregnancy loomed before me. Ryan and I searched the Internet desperately that night for information on what to do in case of unprotected intercourse and possible pregnancy.

What we found scared us. We had logged on to a biased site that said taking emergency contraception was like having a medical abortion. (This isn’t true; emergency contraception prevents pregnancy. If you’re already pregnant, it won’t affect the pregnancy at all.) We felt we had no other choice but to do the unthinkable: tell my mother.

Rethinking Abstinence

I’m not sure what I had expected, but my mother was loving and understanding about it. She told me to go to the local health clinic for help. I decided to go the next day, but before I did, I went to the library to look up info on birth control and pregnancy. I had never even heard of the most common forms of birth control and was suddenly feeling my lack of knowledge. I also discovered that I was at my most fertile period when I had unprotected sex.

I was nervous and cried the entire way to the clinic. But once I got there, the people were really nice and didn’t make me feel ashamed. I got a prescription for emergency contraception, filled it at a local pharmacy, and took it as directed. I also made another appointment at the clinic for regular birth control.

I didn’t talk to Ryan when I went home. I decided instead to do a lot of thinking. I thought about the past few years, my reasons for abstinence, and the rest of my life. And I decided I wasn’t ready for sex and that abstinence was the way for me.

When I told Ryan, I expected him to balk at being abstinent again. But, to my surprise, he agreed that it was the right thing to do. We are together to this day.

Editors’ Note: Emergency contraception (EC) can prevent pregnancy if taken within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected intercourse. Plan B One-Step is available over the counter at a pharmacy without a prescription for anyone regardless of age. However, Plan B One-Step emergency contraception is not effective at preventing pregnancy in people over 176 pounds. If you weigh over 176 pounds and need emergency contraception, you should speak to a health care provider about possibly using another emergency contraceptive pill or a copper IUD. Find out more about emergency contraception.

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