Sex and Prom Night
By: Lori Kremen
Is Prom about sex? Well, that depends on you, your personality, and your circumstance. If you have been (and still are) in a sexually active relationship, then the probability that you will have sex on your prom night is pretty high. If this is the case, then prom isn’t all about the sex, because you’ve already had it. You’ve already mulled over the consequences of having sex with your partner, and have made your decision. If you have no desire to have sex on your prom night, then prom is going to be a sex free night for you. Generally speaking, if one or both people in a duo are not or have never been sexually active, then prom night seems like a romantic way to start having sex.or at least think about it. (It’s usually the thinking about sex which takes the most time.)
Throughout your lifetime, the decision to have sex will have some kind of consequence, whether positive or negative. Sex can strengthen a romantic relationship. Infidelity can kill a romantic relationship. Bad sex, or inconsiderate sex, can destroy your opinion of a potential partner. Having lots of sex with different people can destroy your reputation, your romantic prospects, and can have serious physical side effects. Let us not forget, that sex is actually a good thing. when you’re ready to have it. It’s not dirty (unless you want it to be), and can be a lot of fun if, provided you find a considerate and safe playmate.
Reproduction is the reason sex exists in the first place, so pregnancy is a side effect which may make you rethink the physical pleasures derived from sex. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) have been and are an increasing problem in the United States. Even before HIV and AIDS, STDs have been plaguing America’s population. Death is a very unpleasant side effect of the more serious STD’s, but less severe STDs carry the risk of infertility, rashes, visible scaring, and uncomfortable sensations.
The decision to have sex is so personal that I would bet that if you have thought about the consequences involved in a sexual relationship and decided to move foreword, most likely nothing any one can say will stop you. If you feel you can be dissuaded, perhaps you are just not ready to take this kind of a step. Hopefully, you’ve spent time significantly thinking about this and made a decision with a specific person in mind, with whom you intend to have, or already are in a monogamous relationship with.
On your prom night, we want you to have fun. If your prom plans include sex for the first time, which they may or may not have, hopefully, you have or plan on thoroughly researching effective methods of birth control and protection against sexually transmitted diseases. If you have not done any research, have never had a sex-education class, or would like a refresher course, the rest of this article is dedicated to explaining most methods of popular birth control in plain English. I did not include permanent methods of birth control, because they are not recommended for teenagers and are often irreversible. Following a summary of the birth control methods are some resources where you can find information on or obtain each method described.
Birth Control Not Requiring a Prescription: The following types of birth control are available without an age limit, prescription, or doctor’s appointment.
Latex Condom: The most common form of non-prescription birth control, the latex condom is one of the only forms of contraception that also is effective in preventing Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Condom prices can range from thirty cents to a few dollars depending on the brand. They come in a variety of colors, textures, thicknesses, and flavors (even chocolate). The most effective condom is one that includes a Nonoxynol-9 spermicidal lubricant. Nonoxynol-9 is effective in both killing sperm and HIV. In the United States, condoms are electronically tested for holes. With perfect use (meaning it doesn’t break and you know how to put it on right), only two women out of 100 may get pregnant. You should never store a condom in a wallet, at least if you intend to use it. You should never use oil based lubricants such as baby-oil, hand moisturizer, or Vaseline (petroleum jelly). Oil based lubricants may feel good when you are on your own (you should always be your best lover, after all), but can create holes in the latex, which defeats the purpose of wearing one in the first place.
Condoms are only good for one use, and must be applied to the hard penis before intercourse. Condoms must then be removed immediately after ejaculation in order to be effective. Water based lubricants are recommended with condom use for additional fun. You can get condoms in most convenience stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies. Animal skin condoms are available, but do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases. There are few disadvantages to the condom, but some men claim it reduces sensation (which can be a good thing for women) and reduces spontaneity. The only side effect that can occur with a condom is an allergic reaction to latex (in the form of a slightly uncomfortable rash), in which case, latex-free condoms are available, and should be used.
Today’s Sponge: For a long time, the sponge was taken off the market, but girls who didn’t want to go through the pain in the butt procedure of getting a diaphragm from their doctors won a victory when it was returned to stores in June of 2005. The sponge is a palm sized piece of foam which contains nonoxynol-9, and needs to be thoroughly wet in order to activate the spermicide it contains. Although it is 81-91% effective as a means of contraception, it is not effective in preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Once in place, the sponge is an effective method of contraception for up to twenty-four hours, but must remain in place six to eight hours after the last intercourse. Side effects to the sponge, not including an allergy to the spermicide, include Toxic Shock Syndrome, but the manufacturer stresses that this is not common.
Spermicidal Lubricants Foams and Creams: Have a typical failure rate of about 22% and should not be used by themselves as a contraceptive or preventative against STDs. However, when used in conjunction with another method of birth control (such as a condom or diaphragm), can help prevent pregnancy. Spermicides are available at most drug stores. The only side effect of spermicide is an uncommon irritation.
Abstinence: The only contraceptive method which is absolutely 100% effective against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Many religions also encourage abstinence for unmarried couples. There are two types of abstinence. The first type of abstinence means abstaining from everything sexual in nature, with the possible exception of kissing. The other form of abstinence is what I like to call “everything but,” which means a couple may engage in sexual play (kissing, touching, oral sex), but not sexual intercourse. Oral sex contains an exchange of bodily fluids, and increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Dental dams (for oral sex on women), or the use of a flavored condoms (on men), will reduce this risk. Both are available at most drug stores.
Withdrawal and the Rhythm Method: Are being mentioned in the same breath because they have the highest failure rates amongst teenagers and should never be used unless you want to be a parent or get a nasty sexually transmitted disease. The withdrawal method is ineffective for two reasons. The first reason is the occurrence of pre-ejaculatory fluid, which is released before ejaculation, generally goes unnoticed, and contains about 100,000 sperm. The other reason withdrawal is an ineffective method is because sometimes a man will forget, or not want to withdraw before ejaculation. You receive no protection from STD’s, in this case.
The Rhythm method should be an effective method of birth control in theory, but is not. The rhythm method involves a monogamous couple keeping track of the woman’s menstrual cycle, and then abstaining from sex during her fertile days. Since teenagers do not have regular cycles, sperm can survive up to three days after ejaculation, and the day of fertility can vary, this is also not a recommended way of preventing pregnancy and provides no protection against STDs.
Birth Control Requiring a Prescription: In order to obtain the following methods of birth control, a gynecological exam and prescription is required. None of the prescription based methods of birth control prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
The Pill-There are several varieties of the birth control pill. A quick visit to a gynecologist or your local planned parenthood can help you choose the one that is right for you. Normally, the pill must be taken every day and is over 99% effective against pregnancy, provided you don’t forget to take it every single day, regardless of whether or not you plan on having sex. The side effects of the pill can include weight gain, water retention, irregular bleeding, and nausea. Smoking cigarettes can inflate other complications such as blood clots or stroke. There is also a risk of cancer from the increased estrogen levels in your body. Make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows you are taking the pill, when getting antibiotics. Drug interactions are possible. Some pills can be taken to regulate periods, or even clear your skin of acne. Yasmin has a different composition than that of the standard pill, and has even been said to encourage some weight loss. However, its manufacturer insists that this was not an intended result of Yasmin’s composition. Most of the weight lost in the first year was gained back over the next year.
Ortho-Evra Patch-This patch works exactly like the birth control pill, except that you only have to apply a new one once a week, as opposed to every day. These patches have a remarkable durability, remaining in place through swimming, sauna, enormous physical exertion, and showers. During the week of your period, you do not have to apply one. Side effects of the patch are exactly the same as the pill, with one exception. Using the patch as opposed to the pill increases the wearer’s chances of blood clots. Also, the patch contains almost twice the amount of estrogen the pill contains. If you have a history of cancer in your family, this may not be the option for you. Again you should consult a gynecologist before agreeing to use the patch and will need a prescription.
The Shot-There are two available birth control shots on the US market. The Birth control shot is useful for women who forget to take the pill, as it has to be administered infrequently. The first shot is called Depo-Provera. Only available via prescription, a gynecological exam is necessary in order to obtain this method. Depo-Provera must be administered by a gynecologist once every 13 weeks into either the arm or butt. The majority of women report having irregular bleeding between periods. After one year, most women also report losing their periods altogether. Side effects also include swollen breasts, bone loss (can be prevented by taking a calcium supplement in addition to daily exercise), headache, dizziness, anxiety, nausea, and weight gain (average about 3-5lbs)
The other known shot on the market is called Lunelle. This shot must be administered by a gynecologist or clinic every month, and requires a pelvic exam and pap smear for a prescription. The shot is immediately effective after administered. Side effects include skipped periods, irregular bleeding, weight gain, blood clots, stroke and heart attacks. These risks increase with smoking.
NuvaRing: Since NuvaRing came out in 2002, it has enjoyed an ever increasing popularity. NuvaRing works very much like the birth control pill, with an effectiveness of 99%, except it only needs to be replaced once a month. NuvaRing resembles a small plastic bracelet, and is applied by placing it in the vagina, where it can remain for a period of 21 days. This method of birth control contains a smaller dose of hormones, and as such has a reduced probability of side effects, although the possibility of having side effects is not overruled. Because the drugs are administered through the vagina, they do not have to pass through the liver. Side effects include blood clots, stroke, heart attack, fluid retention and liver disease. Your gynecologist should be made aware of your family’s medical history, and you should have a full physical to determine if this is the right method of birth control for you.
Diaphragm: The diaphragm requires a prescription, but is not an internal method of birth control. The Diaphragm resembles a small sized latex bowl, which should be filled with spermicidal foam or jelly, and relies heavily on the barrier method of contraception, which literally blocks sperm from fertilizing an egg. The gynecological exam is necessary to “fit” it to a woman’s body. Once inside your body, it is effective for about six hours, and must remain in place for an additional 3 hours. The diaphragm has several advantages, including the possibility of increased spontaneity (so long as you insert it before foreplay begins). After six hours, the effectiveness of the diaphragm weans, but can be increased with an additional application of spermicide. DO NOT TAKE THE DIAPHRAGM OUT WHEN APPLYING ADDITIONAL SPERMICIDE. When acquiring this method of birth control, you should make sure you receive instructions on its proper use. DO NOT USE A DIAPHRAGM WITHOUT CONTRACEPTIVE FOAM OR JELLY.
Plan B – Emergency Contraception: Commonly known as “Morning after pill,” can be used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. Plan B clinical studies show 85% effectiveness. One dose can cost anywhere from twenty-five to forty dollars, and the sooner you take these pills, the more effective they will be. If you are already pregnant, however, the pill will not have its desired effects. Therefore, manufacturers suggest that if in three weeks, you do not have your period; you should get a pregnancy test and consult a physician. Women over the age of 18 are able to purchase Plan B over the counter at a pharmacy, with valid identification. Women under the age of 18 can still purchase Plan B, but must have a prescription from a doctor. Also, side effects while mild can and will most likely include high amounts of discomfort and should absolutely not be your primary method of birth control.
Planned Parenthood: Is an inexpensive way to obtain prescription and non prescription birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy counseling. Some Planned Parenthood centers may provide abortions on an affordable scale, but will not advertise this fact. Asking for a counseling session is recommended if you are inquiring about an abortion. This non-profit organization provides services in most states.
To find the Planned Parenthood nearest you visit: http://www.plannedparenthood.org
Phone Number: 1-800-230-PLAN
To find pricing information on non-prescription birth control, to fill a prescription, or a local pharmacy near you visit: http://www.walgreens.com
For additional information on emergency contraception and its side effects visit: http://www.go2planb.com
To learn about more information on the birth control described in this article, or obtain information on birth control not mentioned in this article visit: