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I AM in Iowa Adolescents Making Choices to Control Their Future Teen:Health, Relationship, Body and Sexuality

Topic: Teen Pregnancy & Sexual Health

Jan 12

STDs: More Common Than You Think

Posted By iamincontrol | January 12, 2017

Sexually Transmitted DiseaseSexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are on the rise in the United States. STDs include diseases such as genital herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, human papilloma virus (HPV), and Hepatitis B. These diseases are spread through sexual contact. Some STDs can be treated with medicine whereas others can lead to a lifelong disease with severe consequences. If you choose to have sex, always use a condom to protect yourself because STDs may be more common than you think. Here are some current stats from the CDC regarding STDs in the United States.

  1. Number of new cases of STDs every year: 7 million
  2. Proportion of new STD cases from 15-24 year olds: half
  3. Number of people with prevalent STDs: 110 million
  4. Proportion of chlamydia cases in people aged 15-24: nearly 2/3
  5. Proportion of gonorrhea cases in people aged 15-24: half
  6. Proportion of sexually active adolescent females who have an STD: 1 in 4
  7. Percentage of people who have genital herpes and do not know it: 4%
  8. Percentage of people who have HPV without any symptoms: 90%
  9. Proportion of people who have HIV and do not know it: 1 in 8
  10. STDs can cause infertility (inability to have children) in women.

Besides abstinence, condom use is the most effective method for preventing most STDs. Remember that people can be carriers of STDs without showing any symptoms. Just because neither partner is experiencing any signs does not make it safe to have unprotected sexual intercourse or oral sex.

If you are sexually active, there is a chance you may have an STD. There are a number of places you can go to get tested. Testing is confidential (meaning they can’t tell your parents without your permission) and some places will do it for free. Here is a link to find a testing center in your area:

Dec 8

No Sex, No Problem

Posted By iamincontrol | December 8, 2016

Back of Young couple holding handsWhen I was sixteen years old I thought I found the most perfect boy, the one that I was going to marry and have a family with. When we first started dating I told him I wasn’t ready to have sex and I wanted to wait until I got married and he was fine with that. We would spend all of our time together and when we weren’t together we were texting or calling each other. We started getting very serious and would talk about getting married and having children.

Two years later he started to say he was unhappy because we are not having sex. I was conflicted because I loved him and I didn’t want to break up. However, I was not ready to take the plunge yet. Every time we would hang out, he would continue to pressure me and threaten to break up with me if we didn’t have sex. I got to the point where being around him wasn’t making me happy anymore. I would purposely avoid him because he was constantly pressuring me.

We broke up soon after. For weeks I was depressed, but now I am so happy I chose not to have sex. I’m glad I didn’t do something I wasn’t ready for! I am glad I waited.

So the moral of this story is no sex, no problem!

Here are three ways to say “no”:

  • Be confident in your choice. Try practicing saying “no” if you are nervous! Say it out loud a few times or practice in the mirror until you are comfortable. Think about the reasons why you don’t want to have sex. Your response can be as long or as short as you like. Even if you already had sex with your partner, you can say no whenever you choose. It is your body.
  • Talk to your partner. If you’re uncomfortable with having sex, talk to your partner about it. A truly caring partner will listen and understand. If they don’t care about your concerns, you may need to reevaluate your relationship and break up if necessary. Whatever happens, make yourself clear, and don’t give in to pressure!
  • Stay true to yourself. Go on group dates! That way, you can spend time with your partner without pressure. Don’t drink or use drugs when you’re with your partner. It’s important to have a clear head when someone is trying to pressure you into sex. You can even wear a necklace or bracelet that will act as a reminder not to have sex, and surround yourself with good friends. They will be supportive and help you stick to your decision.

To learn more about saying “no” to sex visit:

Dec 1

Common Myths About HIV/AIDS & Poll Results

Posted By iamincontrol | December 1, 2016

Poll results are in and Iowa teens say they are educated about HIV and AIDS.

What do you know about HIV and AIDS? There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding the virus and its associated disease. Here are some common myths about HIV/AIDS:

  1. HIV can spread through touch, saliva, toilets, and the air. HIV can only be spread through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk. You can safely kiss, hold hands, and share bathrooms with people living with HIV/AIDS without contracting the virus.
  2. You can get HIV from a bug bite. Even though bugs such as mosquitoes suck blood from people, HIV dies within the insect and cannot spread the virus.
  3. HIV cannot be spread through oral sex. Although the risk is smaller than sexual intercourse, it is still possible.World Aids Day concept.
  4. There is no risk of spreading HIV after an antiretroviral treatment. Although antiretroviral treatments lower the amount of virus in the blood, HIV can still be spread.
  5. If both people have HIV, condoms are not necessary. Since there are different strains of HIV, a person could become infected with a different strain of HIV that may be more drug-resistant and harder to treat.
  6. If both people tested negative for HIV, condoms are not necessary. The most common HIV test tests for antibodies that fight the virus. However, antibodies can take up to three months to develop. So someone could still have HIV even though they tested negative. Condoms also prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), making them always a necessity.
  7. HIV/AIDS is a death sentence. Treatment for HIV/AIDS has improved over the years making it a fairly manageable disease in developed countries such as the United States. Most people in the U.S. with HIV/AIDS can now expect to live a more or less regular lifespan if the virus is detected early enough.

If you’re sexually active, using a condom is the best way to protect yourself from getting HIV/AIDS. Regular HIV testing is also a good idea. HIV testing is always performed confidentially (even if you are a minor) and many places will do it for free. Follow the link to find testing locations near you:

Sep 6

Which Birth Control is Right For You?

Posted By iamincontrol | September 6, 2016

Choosing the best form of birth control for you is a daunting but very important task. Here are some basics about common forms of birth control that you can discuss with your doctor.

The Implant

The birth control implant is a small plastic rod, the size Birth controlof a matchstick, that is put inside your upper arm by your doctor. The implant releases hormones to prevent pregnancy by keeping eggs from leaving the ovaries and also makes the cervical mucus thicker so that sperm cannot reach the eggs. It lasts for four years, which means you don’t have to do anything to keep up with it during that period of time.

The Pill

The pill refers to a type of birth control that needs to be taken everyday in pill form. Every month you receive three weeks worth of the actual birth control pill and one week of pills to take to allow you to have your period. It uses either a single hormone or a combination of hormones to prevent pregnancy. Used correctly the pill is very effective, but you need to make sure that you take the pill every single day and at about the same time everyday. The pill is also used by people who don’t need birth control but wish to reduce acne, menstrual cramps, or irregular periods.

The Shot

The birth control shot is injected once every three months by your doctor. It uses hormones to prevent pregnancy and, similar to the pill, is extremely effective if used as directed every 12 weeks. The shot uses hormones similar to those used in the implant and the pill, which keeps the eggs in the ovaries and thickens the cervical mucus. There is the potential for negative side effects, just like every other form, but after stopping injections side effects may persist for 12 to 14 weeks.


An IUD is a small, plastic, “T-shaped” rod that is put inside your uterus by your doctor. There is a copper IUD which provides pregnancy prevention for up to 12 years and a hormonal IUD which lasts between 3 and 6 years, depending on the brand. Both types of IUDs affect the sperm’s movement so that it can’t join the egg so you can’t get pregnant. There is some times pain when the IUD is put in or shortly after and there is some risk that the IUD may slip out of the uterus or cause an infection. Regular check ups are important for that reason. However, IUDs are known to be the most effective, least expensive and longest lasting form of birth control.


Abstinence is the only form of birth control that fully prevents pregnancy and STDs. There is always risk involved with any sexual activity. Abstaining is a choice many men and women make for a variety of reasons. Once you’ve engaged in sexual activities that does not mean you can’t choose to abstain later. It is a personal choice and should be respected by yourself and others.

Always talk to your doctor about what is right for you. Different conditions or medications may limit your options of birth control. Some may experience negative side effects, but that doesn’t make any particular form bad because everyone’s body is different. See a doctor immediately if you start to experience negative side effects so you can adjust your birth control regime appropriately. And keep in mind that these forms of birth control do not prevent against STDs, only condoms or abstinence can provide you that protection.

To learn more about types of birth control visit:

Jul 21

Virgin and Unashamed by Abigail

Posted By iamincontrol | July 21, 2016

You hear about all the responsibilities that come with having sex, but sometimes you don’t hear about the social pressure to have or not have sex. Having sex is a personal choice each person makes that can be based on serval factors including: religious status, personal reasons, tradition for marriage, or family values, and more. I knew about contraceptives and the risks of STDs but I didn’t worry much about sex until the summer of my senior year of high school when I was getting ready to move away to college. Sometimes, the college culture can be portrayed as people partying and having casual hookups. I never really questioned my status as a virgin until I started college. Something hit me, I realized my virginity wasn’t something to be ashamed of! I realized that I wasn’t less than others because I decided to wait to have sex. I also finally saw that my worth as a woman was not in my sexual status, but the strength in my personal respect for myself.

Attractive young woman lying on floorHere are some things to remember about being a virgin:

  1. You have to have patience: Relationships come and go. You should talk and get to know a lot of people so you know what you like. You’ll know when you like that person and you’ll know when you’re ready. If that is marriage, that’s great. If it isn’t, that’s great too.
  1. You are desirable: The girl or boy you are dating finds you attractive regardless of your status as a virgin or not. Being in a relationship isn’t just about physical things, they should also respect your wishes and desires.
  1. You aren’t rushing things: Despite what you see on TV or in movies, sex is a big deal. When you have sex with someone, you physically and emotionally saying there is no one else you would rather be with in that moment. This goes back to patience. The saying is that love is patient and kind, not quick and convenient.
  1. You can hold a conversation: If it is known you are a virgin, a girl or guy is more likely to hold a conversation with you on the basis of them knowing that you aren’t trying to get in their pants.
  1. You aren’t making stupid decisions: Being a virgin makes you think a lot more about your choice of partner, if and when you choose to have sex.

I don’t want this to be a post shaming people who choose to have sex. Who knows when I will, I can’t guarantee it will be after marriage but I can guarantee it will be when it feels right.

For more info on safe sex visit:

Feb 11

National Condom Month

Posted By iamincontrol | February 11, 2016

condomI had just turned nineteen and I was excited to do everything with my friends, but I had just found out something that changed my life forever. It was about three weeks after I turned nineteen, I found out I was pregnant. I had so many plans, dreams and aspirations. I wondered if this would change it all. How could I take care of a baby, I barely can remember to feed my fish! I continued on with the pregnancy, everything became about achieving and striving for my future and my baby. I knew I had to finish school but I didn’t know how I could handle it all. Did the other people in my classes look at me funny as I began to grow bigger and bigger? You bet.  I had the baby with three weeks of school left and I am still going to school; this is my first full semester that I will be taking with my baby.

If I could go back I would have been more careful and would have educated myself on safe sex practices. One of the most important things I can remind you of is to use protection if you are thinking of having sex, talk to your doctor about birth control options, or wait to have sex and enjoy your partner without being so physically invested. I love my son, but I was not ready for him. Being a young parent is not a fun or easy thing. It is hard work, dedication and selflessness. If you are thinking of being sexually active in the future, know your options and use protection that way you can help to prevent unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

For more information about safe sex visit:

Oct 27

The only test you want to fail…

Posted By iamincontrol | October 27, 2015

shutterstock_254219656Last year, my cousin Angela came home from college for the first time.  We were both so happy to see each other and I was so excited to hear about Angela’s first semester at college. She told me funny stories about her professors, football game highlights, and gossip about her new dorm floor mates.  After telling me all about her time at college, she asked me if I could keep a secret. She told me she had met a few new guys while away at college and was having sex with one of the guys named Brad. She told me she was worried because after having sex with Brad a few times her vagina became itchy and it hurt to pee. After talking about how Angela’s body felt off and that Brad and her never used a condom, we decided it was best for Angela to see a doctor and get tested for sexually transmitted infections.

What is an STD/STI and why should you get tested?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are generally picked up by sexual contact. All forms of sexual contact with another person can spread STIs- vaginal, oral, anal, sharing sex toys, and even just skin to skin contact. Most infections come with no symptoms at all. So, if you are participating in sexual contact make sure to get tested regularly.


5 Things Know About STI Testing

  1. Just ask for a test! STI testing is very common! Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or health care provider about your testing options.


  1. Be open and honest! Your health care provider will ask you questions before you get tested to see what tests you will need. The health care provider may ask questions like when was your last period, if you have ever had an STI, and specific questions about your sexual practices. Answer to your best ability, the providers have heard it all so don’t be shy.
  2. Different STI’s require different kinds of tests.

Swab and urine tests: These tests are used for chlamydia and gonorrhea. For the swab test, your health care provider will take a small sample of fluid from your vagina, throat, penis, or anus and place it into a container. For the urine test you will pee in a small plastic cup. These samples will be sent to a lab for testing.

Blood Tests:  These tests are used to detect HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. A small amount of blood will be drawn from your arm and will be sent to the lab for tests. Don’t worry about the needles! Your health care provider is trained to draw blood so it won’t hurt you.

Rapid Response Tests: Tests for HIV. A health care provider will prick your finger and will use that blood for the test. Results take about fifteen minutes. Not all clinics offer this testing, so call ahead to be sure.

Other tests: A sample of fluid from a sore is sometimes used to test for herpes, this is also known as an oral swab. Your health care provider can diagnose anal or genital warts right away simply by looking at them.


  1. Treatment of STIs can be as simple as taking medicine or getting a shot. Some STIs can’t be cured, like herpes but you can receive treatment that can help to relieve the symptoms.
  2. Know Your Resources! There are many places to get tested for STIs. Hospitals and free clinics are places you can get tested at.

Need help locating a place to get tested at? Go to: to find testing centers near you.

Sep 24

Back to School- How to Make the Most of Your Sexual Education

Posted By iamincontrol | September 24, 2015

The new school year is well underway. With the new school year comes, new classes, new teachers, and new opportunities. One of those new things that you may be experiencing is sexual education. While sex education can be a little awkward at first, it is nothing to fear.

If you have been following the blog for a while, you might remember that I wrote a post about my mother as my sex ed teacher. Your sexual education is an condomimportant part of growing up, so you want to make the most of it. So here are some tips to making the most of your sexual education:

  1. Get Rid of the Nerves: Don’t be afraid to say the word “penis” or “vagina,” get it out of the way the first day. Ask that burning question of your instructor.
  2. Ask Questions: You may not understand something, be willing to ask. If you don’t understand, others in the class don’t understand either!
  3. Write it down: If you are afraid to ask go ahead and write it down and hand it to your teacher.
  4. Your Teacher Understands: Your teacher has probably heard a student ask that question before, so they won’t be shocked.

Your sex education is yours, so make sure to make the most of it.

Aug 27

5 Things that Totally Suck About Puberty

Posted By iamincontrol | August 27, 2015

By now you have probably heard the term: Puberty, the transition from being a kid to becoming an adult.  The totally awkward time that happens to everyone. shutterstock_218767672Maybe it is happening to you right now.


Generally, puberty starts between ages 8 and 13 for girls and ages 9 and 15 for boys.  It’s the fastest and most dramatic time of change for your body, except for when you were a baby.  It is intense and can be confusing and even down-right painful.  Here are 5 things that totally suck about puberty and some ideas on how to make them suck less.


  1. Sleeves too short on last year’s jersey?  Blame puberty.  You are in a growth spurt that lasts for about 2 to 3 years.  You could grow 4 inches or more in one year! All that growth can be painful.  Shin-splints and “growing pains” are common among adolescents in puberty and can often be the worst at night.  Try asking your parent/guardian for a small dose of pain reliever or taking a warm bath before bed if the pains are keeping you awake at night.  It can also seem like one part of your body – your feet maybe – are growing faster than everything else.  This is totally normal, although it may feel super awkward.  The rest of your body will catch up and you will become familiar and comfortable with your new shape.


  1. Hair. As a kid, you only had hair on your head, but now it seems like it is showing up everywhere – armpits, legs, groin, chest, and even on your face! At first hair is light and thin but as you continue to develop it gets thinker and courser and you might want t to start doing something about it. If your new hair is bothering you, ask a parent/guardian or older sibling to take you to get a razor of your own and teach you how to shave.


  1. Zits. During puberty, your skin will produce more oil – this will help your skin stay soft and reduce wrinkles as you age, but while your skin is adjusting, you make get zits or even acne (frequent break-outs). Again, this is totally normal during puberty and super annoying.  To help reduce the number of zits you get, wash your face with soap and water every night and every morning and resist the urge to pick at any zits that do pop up.  Zits are filled with bacteria that could spread if you pick at them.  It is better to leave them alone or use an over-the-counter ointment to help reduce the redness and swelling.


  1. Seepage. Your body starts … oozing things during puberty.  You may start to feel yourself sweat more both during physical and activity and just in everyday life.  The sweat is probably going to start to smell funky too.  It is time to ask a parent/guardian to help you purchase deodorant – and if the wetness is bothering you, buy one with antiperspirant too.  Deodorant only works to prevent you from becoming smelly – it won’t make you not stink if you are not staying clean.  So, be sure to wash your body every day.  Water alone isn’t enough anymore, you need to “lather, rinse, repeat” – use a sponge, washcloth, or loofa to turn soap into suds and then scrub your entire body, including armpits, butt and between your legs.


  1. Moods. The chemicals in your body called hormones are in charge of all these changes happening during puberty.  Hormones also control your emotions, and their rapid change can sometimes mean moods or emotions that you do not feel fully in control of.  This could mean you are irritated at your friends, parents or teachers, feel angry more often or easily upset.  It could also mean you are starting to have feelings of sexuality that you may not have had before.  Again, these are all a normal part of puberty.  If you are having a hard time with your emotions or feelings of sexuality, it might be good to talk to your parent/guardian or school nurse or counselor about what is going on.



Jul 30

Laverne Cox, from “Orange is the New Black,” Speaks about growing up transgender

Posted By iamincontrol | July 30, 2015

Last month, the new season of “Orange is the New Black” season three was released. And I just love that show. The twists and turnsshutterstock_201381467 in the plot keep me on the edge of my seat. One of my favorite characters  in the show is Sophia Burset. In real life, Sophia is Laverne Coz who identifies as a person who is transgender. She has recently spoken out about what it was like to grow up in a small town as a person who is transgender.

Laverne, like many of you, grew up in a rural part of America. She talks about this in the video above. Laverne speaks about how she contemplated suicide and felt alone while growing up. In the video above, she talks about her experience growing up transgender. Cox talks about bullying incidence, shame she felt that was fired by her mother, and joys she felt when she found an outlet of dance. She speaks about how she didn’t feel safe as a child; because people were telling her that she was wrong in the way she acted.

Unfortunately, this feeling of isolation and fear is ever so true in Iowa. But IAMinControl is here to tell you that there are people who want to hear your story and want to support you. Here is a list of resources in Iowa if you are struggling with your identity or sexuality:

Your story is important and it needs to be heard.