Your Guide to Birth Control and Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Do you know how to use a condom properly?
If all else fails, there’s emergency contraception
Birth Control and Pregnancy Resources

By Rachelle Carino, 17, The Tutoring School
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Looking at all the information on this page and the next two pages about birth control, I wonder if you’re getting the wrong idea. No, L.A. Youth is not trying to promote wanton promiscuity—we’re just trying to keep you well informed about how to better protect yourself from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Whether you decide to abstain or become sexually active, you deserve to know what safer sex is. I say "safer sex" because there’s no such a thing as safe sex. Unless you’re abstinent, you can never really be 100 percent safe from unwanted pregnancy or disease, but you can bring down the risk by learning how to use contraceptives properly.

I’ve always tried to learn as much as I can about safer sex from educational organizations like Peer Education Program Los Angeles (PEP) and Reach LA which hosts an annual safer sex event called Club Prophylactive. I’m very knowledgeable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I sleep around. In fact, I’m a virgin—and proud to be one. And I’m confident that when I do decide to have sex, I’ll know how to protect myself.

When my teacher taught sex education he showed a cervical cap, Norplant and a diaphragm, but when it came down to showing how to use a condom, he became really shy.

I volunteered to demonstrate how to use a condom in front of my class because first of all, I wanted extra credit, and secondly, I wanted people to know. When I rolled a condom onto a banana all the guys in my class got embarrassed. But they paid attention and I think in the end, they appreciated it. To show that oil-based lubricants shouldn’t be used with condoms, I sprayed WD-40 oil on an inflated condom. The condom popped because oil deteriorates the latex. I also showed how to snip a condom for use in oral sex.

After my presentation, my teacher congratulated me and said that I have a lot of guts. I felt good about myself because I know that I helped my classmates learn something they otherwise probably wouldn’t have known about.

I know sex is embarrassing to most people, but don’t let that embarrassment keep you from getting information that can be really helpful to you. Being informed can help prevent a lot of unnecessary stress. It’s better to be safe than sorry.