How to Prevent Pregnancy. . .

Tamela (named changed to protect the guilty) had a checkered past. By age sixteen, she'd had more sexual partners than she could count and didn't even know the names of some of the guys she'd slept with. "I was drunk or stoned out of my head." Her drunken parents provided no boundaries or supervision so she was a classic case of "looking for love in all the wrong places." Too immature to take birth control pills responsibly, she'd aborted three babies by age eighteen. Miraculously, in her mid-twenties she met a great guy who loved her and treated her with respect. They were soon married and she gladly abandoned her promiscuous ways. They even became active in church.

All was well until she became a mother and her daughter had her first menstrual cycle at age ten. Petrified her daughter would repeat her loose ways and end up pregnant, Tamela scheduled an appointment for her daughter to come discuss birth control with me.

I walked into the exam room and faced a young girl with terrified eyes. Turns out, the mother wanted me to inject a Provera shot into her daughter, Chavel, today and every three months to keep her from getting pregnant. The poor girl gripped my arm and begged, "Please don't give me a shot. I don't need it."

Chavel was not only not sexually active, but she she didn't even like boys yet, preferring instead to just hang out with her girl friends. "Why you gonna give me a shot if I ain't been with no boy. Don't you have to sleep with a boy to get pregnant?"

Her mother was adamant that I inject her ten-year old daughter so there would be '"no chance" of her getting pregnant.

The daughter crossed her arms, eyes huge and near tears."If I ain't doing it, there's no chance I'll get pregnant, so why do I need a shot? Just cause you were a slut, doesn't mean I'll be one."

At an impasse, the two turned to me.

I decided, right or wrong, that the mother was projecting onto her daughter her own neglected and unsupervised childhood. Just because she'd chosen promiscuity at a young age, didn't mean her daughter was "pre-destined" to follow in her footsteps; Chavel was growing up in a different home with two involved parents who loved her and obviously weren't afraid to have "the talk" with their daughter and address sexuality with her. Plus, Chavel was attending a Christian school where the "norm" at age ten was certainly not sexual activity. Chavel, with the candor of youth insisted, "I ain't letting no boy stick his 'thingie' in me when he might have just peed out of it. Eeeew!"

Thus, we had a frank discussion about Tamela's past and how much she regretted the choices she'd made. She didn't want her daughter to follow in that painful path. We talked about taking responsibility for your choices. In the end, we reached an agreement that Chavel would not have to get the injection as long as she was a virgin and not even dating. I expressed my personal opinion that her best choice would be to remain a virgin throughout high school but if she wanted to become sexual, she needed to take responsibility for her choice and get on birth control BEFORE having sex and to use a condom to reduce the risk of STDs. I gave her a business card with my number. She promised both me and her mother she would notify us if she were even close to sexual activity. She knew her mom and I thought remaining a virgin was her best choice, but she didn't have to "sneak around" if she chose otherwise.

Then I crossed my fingers and hoped Chavel wasn't lying to us and that her mother wouldn't sue me if Chavel ended up pregnant at age twelve!

I am happy to report Chavel graduated from high school and college still a virgin (or so she claimed) and later married a nice guy she met in church. Perhaps her mother's "scare tactics" had worked after all! Wave a huge needle and syringe in a ten-year-old's face with the threat that if she even thinks of having sex, mom will demand she get a shot every three months. It worked like a charm (though who knows if Chavel will end up in therapy someday from the "trauma" she endured at age ten.)