From costs to how effective they are, the pros and cons of different birth control methods

By Ernesto Pineda, Senior writer, 17, Animo Film & Theatre Arts Charter HS
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Ernesto believes teens should take the time to get more informed about how to protect themselves.

Last school year when my drama class picked The Pregnancy Project as the play we would perform, I didn’t know what the play was about. I was just trying to get a part to see what it was like to act. Luckily I got a part, and once we started reading the play, I realized the topic, teen pregnancy, was important.

In South Central, where I live, I see young mothers on the bus or at the store, with their children in their arms or in strollers. It starts to seem normal, but should it be? I think that by doing this play, we showed people that they should be aware of the consequences of sex.

The play takes place at a school. One of the main characters, Lucy, says she’s beyond high school boys. She goes to a college frat party and drinks too much. She has sex and realizes she might be pregnant because she didn’t use protection. She thinks, “This can’t happen to me, my life is perfect.” Lucy finds out she is pregnant and is afraid of what her friends will think.

The other roles are the students in a sex education class. My character’s name was Stu. I was the comic relief. My friend Juan believed it fit me perfectly. Stu had very bad luck with girls. I have the same experience. I tried to make my lines as funny as I could, like this monologue: “Could you imagine how amazing the robot stork would be? Not that it matters. I can’t find one girl who doesn’t think I’m best friend Stu, or buddy Stu or guy who is funny but I couldn’t date in a million years Stu …”

It was hard to remember my lines. But it was still fun practicing our lines and feeling what it was like to act and getting everyone to cooperate. In the play, everyone in the sex education class wears a pregnancy belly (even the guys) to experience what it is like to be pregnant. We used pillows. At first some of us forgot to bring our pregnancy bellies, so we would get square couch pillows and put them under our shirts. It looked like we had square babies in our stomachs.

Rehearsal was like a sex ed class

Since we don’t have sex education at our school, my teacher, Nicole, decided to teach us so that we were more informed. She gave us study sheets that showed the reproductive system and different contraceptives, like condoms, the birth control pill, diaphragm, spermicide and emergency contraception (the morning-after pill). Some of those I hadn’t heard about. It was nice to be more aware of other forms of protection. Nicole talked about how effective each method was at preventing pregnancy. Abstinence, which is not having sex, is 100 percent effective; a condom is 98 percent effective when used correctly.

As it got close to the performance, people were tired. We’d read our lines hundreds of times. Nicole said it was important because our school, which is very small with just 100 students, had three students in three years who were pregnant. Some teens aren’t aware of how serious the risk of pregnancy and STDs is, which might be due to lack of information. Last year a 10th grader was doing a presentation about sex education to 40 students. (At my school, students design projects that they choose.) She said teens don’t know how to use a condom correctly. She put us to the test. Out of four groups, only one put the condom on the banana correctly. She was proven right.

We performed the play for the students in our school at a theater downtown. We were all nervous, just waiting backstage. Jose was so nervous he was sweating. I said, “It’ll be all right. We can do this,” even though I was nervous too.

Not only does the play tell Lucy’s story, it also shows the other characters’ perspectives on sex. One character is afraid of having sex and another believes she’s prepared. Another doesn’t know anything. She thinks she can get pregnant from a toilet seat if a guy used it before her (this is not true).

One character, Tilly, is pressured by her boyfriend, “If you love me you’ll do it,” so she asks herself, “When are love and sex the same thing?” That line hit me. What is the difference between love and sex? How do you define how you really love someone? If you have sex with a person, do you then love them? Is there confusion that sex is love?

Our classmates took it seriously


Check out these resources to find a health clinic near you where you can get confidential services, including birth control and STD testing. Most clinics charge sliding scale fees based on a teen’s income, making many services free.

Call (800) 576-5544 for locations. Or go to
Click on the “Find a Clinic” link

Call (800) 427-8700 in Los Angeles County to get referred to a clinic near you

When the play was over we had a question and answer session when two people in the play answered questions. One person asked, “Do you think you could do this outside of school?” They wanted us to continue and perform the play somewhere else. I felt we made an impact and they learned something. Afterward the students and teachers said we did a good job. Some said the play had a good message.

I liked the message the play was trying to get across—to be more cautious and don’t take the risk of pregnancy lightly. I hope teens use protection and ask someone reliable for information if they’re going to be sexually active. Know whether you are ready for sex: Is it the right thing for you to do and the right time to do it?

I think all schools should have comprehensive sex education that includes how to protect yourself. I think my school should assign a teacher to teach sex ed. All my parents have told me about sex is “use a condom.” When your parents or school don’t teach you, who do you turn to? Most teens don’t know where to go to get informed.

I think everyone should think about the consequences of having sex. It’s a big decision. It can change your life. My personal decision is I’m going to wait to be sexually active. I don’t want to risk getting someone pregnant. I don’t want that responsibility at a young age. I see how it changed my parents’ lives. My dad was 21 and my mom was 17 when she got pregnant. My mother was an A student. She had to quit high school and get a job. By choosing not to have sex now, I can focus on different things, like hanging out with my friends, and I can prepare for what to do once I graduate from high school.