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This article was written in response to a question submitted by a teenager who is afraid his girlfriend may be pregnant. By writing this article, I am neither promoting nor condemning either teenage sexual activity or abortion; I am writing this based on the fact that both of these activities are considered legal in the United States, and I am keeping my personal opinions about both matters out of the article.
Dear Doctor Life Advice,
I am 16 years old. My girlfriend is 15 years old. We have both had sex before but never with each other. Four days ago we were out in the woods and we had unprotected sex. She was supposed to get her period yesterday, but she did not. She’s been really worried about it and so have I. It was a huge mistake that I wish I could take back. Any advice on what to do? Can she be pregnant?
Signed: No Take-Backs
Dear No Take-Backs
This is going to be a tough question to answer, since there are possibly huge consequences that you and your girlfriend are dealing with. The first and most important thing for the two of you to be aware of is that you are in this together, and I advise that you both try to be supportive of each other regardless of the outcome.
To begin with, I can tell from your question that neither of you want this to be a pregnancy. Find out as soon as you can. The over-the-counter pregnancy tests available in all drug stores are very accurate in detecting pregnancies. I would say the chances of getting pregnant only 3 days before menstruation are very low. However, anything is possible, so take the pregnancy test regardless. If the over-the-counter test results are negative, you’ll need to test again in a week – unless your girlfriend gets her period. If both tests are negative, and your girlfriend still has not gotten her period, go to Planned Parenthood for a blood pregnancy test. Planned Parenthood is a center for all pregnancy-related issues, and it can be a great resource for you. Please make sure that you are with your girlfriend when she goes through any form of testing since she is probably very worried and scared, and should not have to face this alone. If there are any adults in your life that you can turn to for help, please ask them to help you and guide you. This is a huge burden for the two of you to carry.
You are both very young and the best case scenario would be if your girlfriend is not pregnant. In this case, please look at this incident as a huge learning experience. Notice that the consequences of unprotected sex can be immense and young people may not be equipped to deal with them. If you wish to continue having sex, then make sure you practice safe sex and never have intercourse without condoms, no matter what the circumstances are. I suggest both you and your girlfriend always carry condoms on you from now on.
If your girlfriend turns out to be pregnant, then you really need support from some adults in your life. Think seriously about whether or not you can turn to your parents – either yours, or your girlfriend’s. If your parents are abusive, or if you are afraid that they may throw you out, then I understand that you may have to face this problem without their help. If, however, at least one parent is capable of being supportive, then turn to him or her and ask for help. Really think about your parents objectively; if they have never hurt you in the past, the possibility that they are going to hurt you now when you turn to them in a time of need is very low. If they have always been loving and supportive, then please talk to them. I’m assuming that if you are writing to me, this is something that you prefer to keep from your parents. That would be extremely difficult to do if your girlfriend is pregnant, and even if she is not, she could use the support of loving parents through the process of finding out.
You have three options if your girlfriend does turn out to be pregnant: elective termination (abortion) of the pregnancy; carrying the pregnancy through, and giving the baby up for adoption; or keeping the baby. None of these decisions are easy ones. I know many women in my practice that have been in this situation. Most of the women I know that elected to abort their pregnancies have not recovered from their decision emotionally; the same is true for the women that carried their pregnancies through and gave up their babies. There are women who grieve deeply every year at the due date of their baby, or the date that they had the abortion. There are also many women or couples I know that decided to keep their babies. In these cases, obviously having a baby at such a young age changed the lives of all the parties involved. The dynamics of these families are very complicated. The baby’s parents are too young to know how to raise the child properly, so the baby will end up either not getting adequate parenting. In addition, babies who were given up for adoption always have to deal with the fact that their parents gave them up.
Regardless of what decision you make in case your girlfriend is pregnant, I stress the importance of seeking help from supportive adults. If not your parents, then look for adult friends, family members, or teachers. You have to be careful with school personnel because they may be mandated to report to your parents. You may also be able to find support through Planned Parenthood. This is the time to find support in any way you can.
I wish you the best and I hope that this is just a scare that will pass and will only be remembered as a good life lesson.
Doctor Life Advice