- What is birth control? Birth control includes the many different methods people use to intentionally prevent unwanted pregnancy. Some birth control options includ the condom, the female condom, the cervical barrier, the implant, the patch, the pill, the ring, the shot, the IUD, spermicide and withdrawal.
- How many types of birth control are available? There are over 15 different types of birth control methods that make it easier for you to pick one that feels like a perfect fit. To compare birth control options and learn more about their effectiveness and costs, try Bedsider’s Method Explorer.
- Where can I get free birth control? You can use this easy Bedsider finder or contact your doctor to learn more about where you can access birth control. Condoms, female condoms and Plan B are available over the counter.
- How do I know if I’m pregnant? If you’re worried that you might be pregnant, take a deep breath and read this checklist by Scarleteen.
- I’m pregnant. Now what? You have four options: Plan B, abortion, parenting, or adoption. Talk to someone you trust, think about your options, but know that only you can decide what to do. Plan B (also known as emergency contraceptives) can be taken up to 5 days after intercourse to reduce the risk of pregnancy. For more information on your options, visit Planned Parenthood’s website.
- If I choose an abortion, do my parents have to know about it? If you are under 18, your state may require parental consent for an abortion. In some states, you can be excused from notifying your parents. Massachusetts requires that one of your parents give permission for an abortion. However, a judge can excuse you from this requirement. Find out more about Parental Notification Laws.
- What if I can’t afford an abortion? Your insurance might cover an abortion. MassHealth and other public health plans in Massachusetts cover the costs of abortion. If you still need help paying for an abortion, call the EMA Fund at 617-354-3839.
- I’m pregnant and I want to parent. What now? If you decide to become a parent, we recommend building a system of support and ensuring you feel cared for and safe. To read young parent stories and learn more about what their lives are like, check out ThePushback.org.
Relationships & Friendships
- What is a healthy relationship? Whether it’s someone you are dating or someone you are hooking up with, you should both feel good about being with each other. If you’re not sure if your relationship is healthy or unhealthy, we recommend checking out the Safety in Relationships site. If you’re not sure if your bestie is bringing you down, take this quick quiz!
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
- What are STIs? STIs are Sexually Transmitted Infections (sometimes referred as STDs for Sexually Transmitted Diseases) that can be spread through vaginal, anal, manual and/or oral sex.
- What are some types of STIs? STIs include Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Gonorrhea, Hepatitis, Herpes Simplex, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV, Warts), Molluscum Contagiosum, Pubic Lice, Scabies, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis.
- How can I prevent myself from transmitting or contracting an STI? If you are sexually active, it is important to practice safe sex. If you’re not sure how to practice safe sex, Scarleteen will walk you through it.
Sex & Sexuality (defined by Sex, Etc.)
- Sex: 1. A person’s biological makeup of sex organs and chromosomes that marks them as male, female or intersex; 2. The act of engaging in sexual behaviors with another person—such as oral, anal or vaginal intercourse.
- Sexuality: Sexuality is a broad term that refers to far more than sexual behaviors and body parts. It also refers to how people feel about themselves and being with others, how they see their gender and sexual identities, and how they interact with other people.
- For more resources on sex and sexuality, we recommend Scarleteen, Sex, Etc., and the Birds and the Bees Project.
Shame and Stigma (defined by #NoTeenShame)
Shame: A form of communication (verbal, mediated, imagery, materials) towards an individual or a group intentionally or unintentionally to cause a negative emotional reaction or to elicit pain.
Stigma: Beliefs or perceptions about a certain topic, lifestyle or decision that are accepted by a group and used to judge a group or individual for holding different beliefs.
- To read stories written by young parents or to submit your own story, visit The Pushback and check out what young moms are saying and doing about shame and stigma on No Teen Shame’s blog.
LGBTQ (defined by Sex, Etc.)
- Lesbian: A woman who is sexually and romantically attracted to other women.
- Gay: Being sexually and romantically attracted to people of one’s same sex. It can refer to men or women, although many gay women will use the term “lesbian.” Also known as homosexual, which some gay people feel is a derogatory word because homosexuality used to be a diagnosable mental illness.
- Bisexual: A person who is attracted to males and females.
- Bicurious: A term that refers to someone who is primarily attracted to people of a different sex, but who has romantic or sexual thoughts about people of the same sex.
- Transgender: A term that describes a person whose gender identity does not match that person’s biological sex. This may include someone who was born biologically female who feels biologically male, vice versa, or something else altogether. Transgender people may alter their bodies using hormones, surgery, both, or neither.
- Transsexual: A term that describes a person who was born one biological sex but who feels strongly enough that she or he is a different sex to have sex realignment surgery. Someone who is transsexual can be non-operative, which means they do not wish to change their sex characteristics; pre-operative, which means they have begun the process of changing their sex characteristics, but have not yet had the surgery; and post-operative, which means they have completed the process of genital surgery.
- Queer: A name some people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) use as an affirmation of their sexual orientation or gender identity as different and wonderful, as in “I’m queer and proud.” By using an historically negative word, some LGBT people are trying to erase the negativity associated with it. It is important to note that not all LGBT people use the term queer, and it should not be used by people who are heterosexual or cisgender to describe LGBT people.
- For local resources, check out Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Youth and Massachusetts Commision on LGBT Youth.