Long after the size of the brain is established, it continues to undergo major stages of development. One of the last regions of the brain to mature is the prefrontal cortex - home of the so-called “executive” functions – planning, setting priorities, organizing thoughts, suppressing impulses and weighing the consequences of one’s actions. Did you catch that? The part of the brain that guides good judgment and decision-making develops last! In fact, the prefrontal cortex does not reach a level of genuine maturity until you are in your mid-twenties! As mature as you might look or feel, there’s still a lot of construction going on in your mind. When you feed your brain sex, drugs, alcohol or porn, you can seriously impede your mental development.
STIs are scary! Recent studies show over 60 million Americans are currently infected and 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections occur each year in the U.S.3 Two-thirds of these new infections occur in people under the age of 25.3 Some STIs cause painful blisters. Others cause bleeding, cancer, infertility or death. For some STIs, there’s no cure. Condoms only reduce your risk, but they cannot eliminate your risk of getting diseases. Don’t confuse the word “protection” with “reduction.” Even if you use condoms correctly, every time, you’ve only reduced your risk of becoming infected. And with every new sex partner, you increase your chances of contracting an STI.
Neither condoms nor birth control are 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. So, the more times you have sex, the more likely you are to get pregnant or get someone pregnant. All of a sudden, you’re a parent and life becomes a lot more challenging.
The media often makes sex look like an incredibly wonderful experience that has no negative consequences. But that’s not real life. Sex is a powerful, intimate act. If you separate it from lifetime commitment and faithfulness, you can end up feeling empty inside. One study found as many as three out of four females and more than half of all males who started having sex when they were teenagers wish they had waited. Sex will not guarantee a longer or closer relationship. Think honestly about your reasons for having sex and ask yourself if it’s worth it. Waiting offers rewards, not regrets.
Your whole future is ahead of you. The strongest people are leaders, not followers. So what if it seems like everyone else is having sex?!? (By the way, they’re not.) If you still have your virginity, you’ve got something they can’t get back. If you’re not a virgin, you can make a commitment to stop, to wait, and to stand by your new commitment without compromise. You earn respect by standing out, not by blending in. When your convictions are strong enough to endure the attacks of the media, peer pressure and temptation, you will gain the respect of others and you will give yourself the freedom to pursue a happy, healthy future.