Psychological Self-Help

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1039
and your head tell you that having sex is a wise, desirable course of
action. Actually, well informed sexual planning does not promote
sexual activity; it does, however, help you skillfully avoid unwanted
sexual behavior. There is also evidence that the simple "don't-do-it
programs" don't work (Scales, 1987).
The sexual attitudes of young people about contraceptives need to
become more positive, so there is increased self-awareness and self-
control by every young person. Research has shown that teenagers
with close relationships with their parents, especially if they
communicate well with mother, have intercourse later than those with
poor relationships. Books dealing with avoiding pregnancy include
Calderone & Johnson (1990), Watkins-Ferrell & Robinson (1990),
Foster (1986), and Howard (1991). Planned Parenthood Web site and
Hotline is a good source of information, call 800-230-PLAN. 
 
The morning-after pill and abortion
While it is so much better to prevent the pregnancy than to abort
it, the TV propaganda by anti-abortion zealots must be corrected.
They, in effect, threaten pregnant women with guilt, shame, and
depression for years after an abortion. That is a lie, as shown by
careful research. Brend Major recently published (August, 2000,
Archives of General Psychiatry) a 2-year follow-up of 442 abortions;
she found no increase in depression. Most women were satisfied with
their decision to abort. Earlier research also showed that women's
overwhelming psychological reaction to having an abortion was relief,
not guilt. There is less anxiety, depression, and distress after an
abortion than before. Of course, occasionally a person does have
serious psychological problems after an abortion (just like after a
birth), but this occurs more often when there was a history of
depression or emotional problems and/or when the abortion was long
delayed by doubts or denial. Also, having opposition, criticism, and
neglect, instead of sympathy and support, from your relatives, your
religion, and/or your male partner make the abortion situation much
more traumatic and depression more likely (Adler, David, Major, Roth,
Russo, & Wyatt, 1990). 
Birth control should, as I've said ad nauseam, be planned in
advance. But, in an emergency, as mentioned above, a "morning
after pill" has finally become available in this country after being
available for several years in Europe. If you aren't educated or told
about all the before and after pregnancy options, how are you going to
know what to do? A recent study of 14 and 15-year-old girls found
that perhaps 75% of their unplanned pregnancies could be avoided by
a single lesson in emergency contraception (BTW the lesson did NOT
make them more likely to have sex). Physicians refer to these pills as
PREVEN--the Emergency Contraceptive Kit. See your physician if
he/she is acceptable to you and if he/she will prescribe these drugs,
some won't do it. (I am told--don't take my word for it--the pills are
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