Knowing My Sexual Body

by Jeanne

Our federal government is currently pushing abstinence-only education (see teen health in the news), promoting the ignorance of teens and young people nationwide. How will we guard ourselves and our communities against sexually transmitted infections or unintended teen pregnancies if we can't speak honestly about sex? I made the decision to have sex as a teen and it was my sex education that helped me understand and respect my fertility. It was knowledge shared, not silence, that kept me from getting pregnant.

I was seven when my sister taught me about the logistics of sex and babies.
I was ten when my mom told me sex is only for married people and exempted me from sex-ed in the fifth grade.
I was twelve when I got my first period.
I was twelve when I learned about masturbation, condoms and spermicide in school.
I was thirteen when I kissed my first partner.
I was thirteen when I learned about gay sex in school.
I was fourteen when my sister told me about the teen health center at our high school. They were great, she said, and I could get free birth control there. She told me about the pill and showed me the ones she was taking.
I was fifteen the first time I was naked with a male partner. He kept his pants on and I didn't worry about pregnancy.

I was seventeen the first time I wanted to have sex. My partner was my best friend. The first time we wanted to try, we couldn't find a condom so he kept his penis out of my vagina. His semen landed on my thigh, but I was still scared I might get pregnant. I went to the teen health center at my high school the next day and got emergency contraception. I took it in secret and I didn't get pregnant.

I was seventeen when I had my first pelvic exam at the teen health center. It was the first time I talked to an adult woman about sex and my body and my options. I told her I wanted to get on the pill and she helped me. I bled a lot that month. A week after my period, I bled from the emergency contraception, then I spotted from the pills, and I got my period again. I had never been so aware of my cycle.

I was seventeen when I grabbed a handful of condoms from the teen health center and tried to have sex. I was also on the pill. I remember he had a hard time putting that condom on. He was a virgin too and we worked hard that first night to get him inside me. We went to sleep exhausted and I woke up unafraid. I woke up knowing I wasn't pregnant and that I loved the feel of our two bodies in bed. Sex is not just for marriage for me.

I was seventeen when I missed a pill and took two the next day. I was seventeen when I thought my period was supposed to come on the first green pill of my pack and it didn't. I was scared I was pregnant and I was sure I would have an abortion, sure I couldn't support a baby, go to college, or live the life I wanted to. I was seventeen when my period came on the day of the second green pill and not the first.

I was seventeen when I was accepted into college.
I was eighteen when I went to college and learned how to have safe oral sex.
I was eighteen when I first had oral sex and decided to use condoms every time I had sex with a man.
I was nineteen the first time I kissed a woman.
I was twenty when I learned I could get emergency contraception from pharmacies in Washington State and carry it just in case.
I was twenty when I performed my first self exam and looked at my own cervix.
I was twenty when I first started to use fertility awareness and condoms together.
I am twenty-one and a sexual person.

Abstinence-only education is not what kept me from becoming pregnant. Knowledge about my body, my options, and my goals has. Know your body. Know your rights.

Knowledge is Power. Trust Teens to Decide.

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