As you grow older you are going to be making more decisions that impact your life. Where you go to college, whether your play soccer or volleyball and who you choose as a date to the dance are all a few examples. While every decision may seem small, they contribute to help form the young adult you’re becoming.
One decision you may face is whether or not you’re ready to have sex. This is a personal decision that will have a significant impact on your life. It requires maturity and you need to be able to think about your decision and how it might impact your life. As a teenager, you have a lot going on. Making the decision to have sex may not be something your ready for. You may not have a fully developed brain with the capability to make the right decisions to prevent teenage pregnancy.
Read below to learn more about your development and how it might affect you making right decisions.
Your Brain is Still Developing: Babies on the Teenage Brain
It’s a fact: Teens and adults do not have the same brains. They think and reason in different ways. Until you get past your early 20s, part of your brain (the prefrontal cortex) is NOT FULLY DEVELOPED! That is the part of your brain that controls judgment, planning for the future and understanding the consequences of your actions (like preventing teenage pregnancy). Your whole life may hang in the balance, but your brain has not yet fully developed to think through your choices and make decisions based on giving you the best outcome in the long term.
You Get Caught-up In the Moment: Hot & Sticky Situation
Fast forward to a weekend in the future. You’re dating a guy and find yourself alone with him in a car. You’re feeling waves of desire and emotions you feel may be love. You weren’t prepared for this situation and you don’t have condoms, you’re not taking birth control, and you have no way of preventing a pregnancy. You’re caught up in the moment. You won’t go all the way, right?
According to statistics, there's a good chance you might. Your underdeveloped prefrontal cortex in your brain should be screaming about disease, teenage pregnancy, rejection and gossip all over the school. Instead, your feelings may likely take over completely. You love the intensity, romance, risk and living for the moment, but your brain may not be equipped to warn you that this may be self-destructive behavior.
Focus on Your Long Term Interests
It’s hard to believe that you are not yet capable of making wise decisions for yourself or that your brain is not yet up to the careful calculations needed to act on your own best long-term interests. Just remember: Even your most cherished longings and emotions could push you to make decisions that feel good today but you’ll regret tomorrow. If you focus on your long-term interest and who you want to be, you can make some good decisions that will help you get there.
Feeling torn? Find an adult you trust and talk to him/her about your future, your boyfriend, and risks of pregnancy. Try to postpone ALL-important decisions until you've had time to talk things over with the adult. And in even the most heated situations, remember to focus on your future and make the right decision.