Deciding about Boyfriends and Sex 59
Most young people
begin to have loving or
sexual feelings as they
get older. Thinking about
touching or being touched
by someone in a sexual
way is not unusual. (Girls
may even think about
another girl or woman in this way.)
But people often have these feelings
before they are ready to act on them.
I wonder if he
Young women have sex for many different
reasons. Some do it because they want to
have a baby. Others do it because it makes
them feel good or wanted. Some women
feel they have very little choice because
it is their duty as a wife or girlfriend. Some trade sex for money
or for other things they need to survive, such as food, or clothes
for their children, or a place to live.
Others have sex because they think it will make someone
love them more. Sometimes a friend or a boyfriend can make a
girl feel that she should have sex when she is not ready.
No one should have sex when she does not want to. Only
have sex when you decide you are ready. Sex can be enjoyed
by both people, but it is difficult to enjoy something when you
feel fear or shame, or have not given consent.
If you are ready for a sexual relationship, always protect
yourself against pregnancy and disease. For more information
on how, see the chapters on “Family Planning,” “Sexually
Transmitted Infections,” “HIV,” and “Sexual Health.”
➤ Only have sex
when you decide that
you are ready and
know how to protect
yourself from harm.
Sex can be enjoyed
by both people, but
not if there is fear or
Health risks of early pregnancy
Most girls’ bodies are not ready for a safe and healthy birth. Young women
are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia (which can cause seizures, “fits”) during
pregnancy. Because their bodies may still be too small for a baby to come out,
mothers under age 17 are more likely to have long, difficult labors, and blocked
births. Without medical help, a woman with any of these problems can die.
Blocked births can also damage the vagina, causing urine and stool to leak (see
page 370). Babies born to girls younger than 17 are more likely to be born too
small or too soon. If you are already pregnant, try to see a trained midwife or
health worker as soon as possible to find out how to have the safest birth. For
more information, see page 72.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012