One of the toughest decisions that a lot of teens face is whether to have sex. If people decide to have sex, it means they must also take responsibility to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Most teens who get pregnant in the United States didn't plan on it. Besides preventing unplanned pregnancies, people who have sex must protect themselves from STDs. For those having sex, condoms must be used every time to protect against STDs. The most effective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs is abstinence (not having sex or any intimate genital contact, including anal sex or oral sex). Couples who do decide to have sex can choose from many effective methods of birth control. Read these articles for important information about different birth control methods: Birth Control Patch Birth Control Pill Birth Control Ring Birth Control Shot Cervical Cap Condoms Diaphragm Emergency Contraception (Morning-After Pill, Plan B, or ECP) Implantable Contraception IUD Fertility Awareness Spermicide Withdrawal Back to Articles Related Articles Birth Control Methods: How Well Do They Work? Some birth control methods work better than others. This chart compares how well different birth control methods work. Read More STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself. Read More Talking to Your Partner About Condoms Some people - even those who are having sex - are embarrassed by the topic of condoms. Here are some tips for talking about condoms with your partner. Read More Abstinence Abstinence is the only form of birth control that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Abstinence also protects people against STDs. Read More Virginity: A Very Personal Decision Deciding whether it's right for you to have sex is one of the most important decisions you'll ever have to make. Each person must use his or her own judgment and decide if it's the right time - and the right person. Read More Gyn Checkups Girls should get their first gynecological checkup between ages 13 and 15. Find out what happens during a yearly gyn visit -- and why most girls don't get internal exams. Read More Can a Girl Get Pregnant if She Has Sex During Her Period? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More Female Reproductive System Why do girls get periods? What goes on when a woman gets pregnant? What can go wrong with the female reproductive system? Find the answers to these questions and more in this article for teens. Read More Male Reproductive System What makes up a guy's reproductive system and how does it develop? Find the answers to these questions and more. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.