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What I Wish I'd Known Before Sex, or Birth Control 101

by Jessawhy

One of my close friends has a cousin who recently discovered an unexpected pregnancy. She’s single, in her mid-twenties and not ready for a baby.  The kicker for this story is that she got pregnant on her FIRST TIME having sex. And, she did think about birth control, but she used Plan B (morning after pill) as Plan A, not knowing it was only 80% effective.

And then there’s my little 18 year old sister who is planning on getting married in the next few months but doesn’t want a baby for a few years. When I was a 20 year old newlywed, I didn’t understand ovulation and the range of dates I could get pregnant, which is how I ended up with a baby at 22.

So, whether married or single, women should have all the information they need to prevent a pregnancy or STD before they start doing the hanky-panky.

From her Young Woman’s advisor, one of my friends remembers, “It’s easier to repent (of sexual transgression) if you don’t have a baby.” and tells her teenage sons with a smile, “Two forms of birth control are NEVER enough!”

When I was newlywed, I was on the pill, but it messed with my moods. So, I stopped taking it and we started using condoms, but not with regularity. That’s how baby one was conceived. Baby two was planned, and baby three was conceived the day after I stopped taking the mini-pill.

Right now I have an IUD, and I love it. With three small children, I’m not sure when or if I’ll have any more, and this Mirena is good for five years. I’ve learned that the best candidates are those who have already had a baby.

What did you wish you knew before you started having sex?

If you aren’t sexually active yet, what are you concerned about? What questions do you have?

Here are some related links, feel free to add to this list.

Birth Control: More options than I expected

Unplanned Pregnancy

Menstrual and Ovulation Cycle

Before You Decide to Have Sex

As you can see, I have birth control on the brain and want to encourage you to talk to single women that you know, daughters, friends, and sisters about sex, pregnancy and birth control.

(Photo: That’s me, 9 months pregnant and 9 months later. The images are superimposed, and my 5 year old is the photographer.)

Jessawhy

Jessawhy is a wife, mother, community volunteer, activist and student. She is currently working towards a Physician Assistant degree.

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24 Responses

  1. Zillah says:

    Just a technicality: while the Mirena makers say that you need to have had a child to get the Mirena, it’s not necessary. The reasoning is that insertion will be easier, which may be true but isn’t necessarily, along with numerous assumptions about morality, etc. etc. I have no children, yet, and my doctor at the BYU health center had no problem putting in my IUD (which I love!).

  2. cchrissyy says:

    The author of the fantastic “taking charge of your fertility” has a book for teens which has rave reviews, though I haven’t read it myself – “Cycle Savvy”. The former is all about female reproductive health and as far as I remember, discussed natural birth control in much detail but nothing on other birth control methods (right?) and if so, I’d expect the teen book is all on reproductive health, and not on birth control itself.

  3. No one told me to pee after sex! So I got a nasty UTI on our honeymoon. I make sure to tell it to every engaged (Mormon) woman I meet.

  4. MoJo says:

    No one told me to pee after sex! So I got a nasty UTI on our honeymoon. I make sure to tell it to every engaged (Mormon) woman I meet.

    Good gravy! I was coming here to make the EXACT SAME COMMENT, except I apparently bypass the UTI and go straight to the kidney infection.

    Also, this is OT, but I wish so many doctors had not told me for so long that I would probably never have children.

    I have a 10-month-post-wedding baby to prove every one of them wrong.

  5. mraynes says:

    Great post, Jessawhy. I am of the opinion that the more sex education, the better. I think, obviously, that parents should be the main source of information about sex but they should be backed up by appropriate education at school and church. I think not talking about sex only leads to sexual dysfunction and/or dangerous sexual practices.

    My parents were always very open about sex, often discussing it at the dinner table. Because of their openness, I always believed that sex was something to be enjoyed but respected. My lack of sexual dysfunction is a credit to my parents’ healthy attitude about sexual intimacy. I also had exceptional sex education at my high school. By the time I got married, I knew about all the forms of birth control, their effectiveness and what would work best for me. When it was time for children, mr. mraynes and I were fully aware of my cycle and how best to get pregnant.

    My sister, on the other hand, also benefited from my parents and has the same healthy attitude about sex but knew nothing about safe sex, birth control or her fertility. The only difference between our experiences is that I went to high school before Bush’s Abstinence Only policy and she was a high school student after that policy was enacted.

    The statistics back my anecdotal experience up; the number of high school students abstaining from sex has not gone up but STDs and teen pregnancy has either remained the same or increased.

  6. Amen to Jane and Mojo! I’ve had quite a few UTIs since I got married and they are such a headache to deal with. Peeing after sex and making sure I am well-hydrated are two ways I try to stave off the dreaded urinary tract infection.

    When my Mormon friends become engaged, I tell them to make an appointment with their gynecologist right away if they want to use birth control pills. Some of my friends don’t realize how they may need a month or two before their pills kick in. An early appointment with the gyno will also give them the time to find the pill that works best for them. I went through 3 BC prescriptions before I settled on the Nuvaring.

  7. Caroline says:

    Pee after sex!!

    Like these other ladies, I got a nasty UTI on my honeymoon. I didn’t even know that I had one – all I knew was that it was excruciating to pee. I just thought the pain might have something to do with all the new sex. So I never went to a doctor. It was only a month or so later that I asked my mom about it and she told me what it was. I sure wish I had been better informed.

  8. mh says:

    my husband had been married before, so we had a few healthy discussions about sex when we were engaged. that was the only good and helpful sex education i received before getting married. i don’t really want to think about what would have happened if we had both been inexperienced in that area. some of my unmarried friends who are in their mid to late twenties still have no idea about sex. it’s pretty ridiculous. i try to make sure they know they can ask me questions when they get curious.

  9. FoxyJ says:

    Like mraynes I had very open parents and felt totally comfortable with sex. I still really benefited from reading about your cycle (Taking Charge of Your Fertility)–I think all women should at least know the basics and chart for a few months to get a good idea about how their body works. The biggest thing I realized after 7 years and having 2 babies is that hormones change. When I was newly married and using the pill, it was awesome. Totally eliminated by PMDD and made my periods tolerable. Now that I’ve had two kids my body has changed, and I realized this summer that the pill was contributing to depression/anger issues I was having. Right now we’re just charting and using condoms when neccessary (we’re in a position that a “surprise” baby would be OK). If I could get an IUD I would love to have one. Probably the best advice I would give to newlyweds is to have the conversation about contraceptivess. If you don’t want to have a baby 9 months after your wedding, you probably should use something. Many people assume they won’t get pregnant and end up being surprised. At the same time, I have close friends that have never used birth control. They have four very closely-spaced children. But they prayed about the issue and discussed it a lot before they married, so they are happy with their choice. It’s most important to know what’s going on with your body and to make deliberate choices regarding when to get pregnant.

  10. Starfoxy says:

    It’s most important to know what’s going on with your body and to make deliberate choices regarding when to get pregnant.

    I really agree with this- which is part of why abstinence only sex-ed programs are so baffling to me. Nearly everyone will have sex someday, and knowing all of the options, mechanics, and anatomy can make a world of difference. I was blessed to have gone through a comprehensive high school sex-ed program that compensated for my parent’s tight-lipped approach, *and* for my husband’s lack of information.

  11. bekah says:

    I have two daughters and am really looking forward to teaching them about fertility and menstrual cycles. I wish I had known more when I was a teenager.

    I’ve spent only a year on birth control our whole marriage. Our first child came 9.5 months after our wedding. For four years she was the oops baby, but after trying over a year for her sister and being infertile for the past 3, she’s become our miracle baby!

  12. Sooooo very anon says:

    I was warned about the UTI, and avoided that by always peeing after sex and drinking lots of cranberry juice. (cranberry pills work well too if you don’t like the taste of cranberry juice).
    No one warned me that you should not attempt to make up for 22 years of celibacy the first night, or you will end up rubbing the skin raw right off your inner labia and being in MASSIVE HORRIBLE amounts of pain for the rest of your honeymoon. My doctor actually thinks too much lube might have contributed to that too, but we were worried about not using enough. Who knows. My new rule, no more than three episodes of sexual intercourse in a 24 hour period, EVER.

  13. amelia says:

    i don’t want to rain on the IUD parade, but my sister had an incredibly traumatic experience with one–specifically she got pregnant while one was inside her uterus and it didn’t do her job. the resulting first trimester, miscarriage, blood loss, etc. were truly awful. i suppose IUDs have their place in the gamut of contraceptives, just be conscious of them and see if there’s some way to confirm they’re actually in place and working as they should be rather than trusting they’ll do their job for the five years (or whatever it is) as advertised.

  14. Jessawhy says:

    Thanks for your comments, everyone!
    I had forgotten about the peeing rule.
    One of my friends was married 2 weeks before I was. She got a UTI on her honeymoon in Hawaii. She told me to remember to pee before and after sex. Good advice.
    Thanks also to the references for the book, “Taking Charge of your Fertility.” I’ll have to get that for my sister as an engagement present.
    It sounds like sex-ed in school varies quite a bit from region to region. I only remember a maturation program in Jr. High, though there may have been sex-ed in HS that I’m not remembering.
    I didn’t get that much help from my parents, so I knew very little upon entering college, and slightly more when I married.
    Zillah, thanks for the info about the IUD. I’ll have to see if my sis can get one. They’re the best!

  15. Angie says:

    I wish that I had researched the birth control pill. I didn’t know that one possible side effect is major depression. Now I do.

  16. EmilyCC says:

    FoxyJ, I’m having the same issue with the pill–worked great pre-kids but has just messed with my moods and cycles post-kids.

    This doesn’t relate to birth control, but one of our bloggers here gave me the best sex advice: give it about 2 years for it to get really good. That saved me a lot of worry.

  17. elizabeth-w says:

    Sex got so much better after the vasectomy!!
    And, the pill made me depressed. But I didn’t realize it until I went off of it. I just thought I was sad because I’d moved to grey, dreary Portland, had a crazy job, and maybe I’d married the wrong guy.
    Turns out, it was just the Pill. Portland was still dreary, but six weeks after coming off the pill, it was like the lights turned on. I was back to my normal, happy, euthymic self.

  18. Elizabeth, I totally agree! My husband had a vasectomy earlier this year, and it’s amazing what not having to worry about another unplanned pregnancy has done for my libido.

    I don’t agree with you about Portland being dreary. 🙂

  19. K says:

    A couple of years ago, a friend of mine (from church) got pregnant with her 5th even thought she had an IUD. Her husband is a doctor. I’m sure they think it is Divine intervention, but I also think someone got an operation to prevent a 6th since then.

  20. K says:

    When I was newly married, the pill worked fine. After my first, it did not work so well, and I had my second 17 months later. I then tried depo shots – very bad for depression. Eventually, hubby got a vasectomy, after I had to have all my insides surgically pulled back up following the third child. Now I wish they’d done a hysterectomy for me then (nine years ago,) because I think I’m having perimenopause symptoms, like migraines (12 migraines this month.)

  21. Becky says:

    Thank you.

    Thank you for talking about this. This is something you never hear about at Church or in LDS circles. Thank you.

  22. Do you think anyone in the Church makes an informed decision not to use artificial birth control anymore? Or am I truly a dinosaur who belongs back in Vernal?

  23. gladtobeamom says:

    I was lucky my mom had gotten pregnant at 15 and didn’t know how it happened. She made sure to give us lots of info. I knew all the ends and outs. I also had 3 older sisters who openly discussed these things with me. It is great to be informed especially when you cant use birth control for medical reasons. I have successfully been able to plan everyone of my children only using condums. We even have 5 years between two of them. I don’t think I could have done this with out understanding it all.

    As far as peeing after sex. I am thankful I learned that from a nurse while attending nursing school. I took her advice and didn’t realize until now how good it was.

  24. Kiri Close says:

    I wish I could’ve talked more to my mom & YW & RS leaders about how much fun sex is! I, of course, had long assumed it was (colorful mind that I have). But talking more about it — the intricacies of sex would’ve been helpful, & sex would’ve been less of a mystery.

    I also wish Relief Society & Young Women’s had outright succinct lessons in the manuals about the JOY OF SEX, paraphernelia, contraception, etc. for Sunday discussion.

    Thankfully, Rob takes care of all the contraception, simply slipping one on everytime (whew!).

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