A Message for Teens About Sexual Choices

Dear beloved teens,

There are so many reasons to wait to have sex. If you have already started having sex, there are an equal number of reasons to take an indefinite pause. The reasons that I want to highlight are both medical and emotional.

Medically speaking, when you have sex with someone, you are having sex with everyone they have had sex with. This puts you at risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), some of which cannot be prevented — even with condom use. You cannot rely on the classic “He’s been tested and is clean” spiel either because that requires not only the trust that a partner actually was tested, but also the assumption that he was tested for everything.

As a gynecologist, I am constantly encouraging patients who want to only be tested for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia to get tested for HIV and other blood-born STIs. Though condom use is extremely important, some examples of STIs that cannot be prevented with condoms are Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Herpes. I encourage all ladies ages 9 through 26 to get the HPV vaccines, but even these don’t guarantee prevention. Pregnancy is also a risk that is not completely preventable by condom use or birth control.

The emotional repercussions of entering into the world of sex can be as detrimental as the physical ones. I believe two people can get to know each other better when their minds are clear of physical attachment. I regularly see young women who come into the office for testing after a break-up. While I applaud these young ladies for getting themselves checked out for STIs, it makes me sad to see how these attachments, which feel so strong when sex is involved, can affect academic success and productivity.

My last reason for you to think twice about entering the world of sex requires you to crunch some numbers. If a teen starts having sex at age 15 and has 2-3 partners per year (between boyfriends and this new culture of casual sex), by the time she turns 25, she will have slept with 20-30 people. If we factor in the risks of STIs, pregnancy etc., the odds are not in her favor and she is unlikely to come out unscathed.

My teenage daughters, sisters, cousins and friends, sex will NOT keep a boyfriend, but keeping yourself abstinent can keep you safe and healthy for the most precious parts of your young adulthood.

Wendy MD

Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in the city of Chicago. She is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and is always accepting new patients. Learn more at