Dear Beth: You recently mentioned getting a pregnancy test at a family planning clinic but omitted mentioning the inexpensive and relatively accurate pregnancy tests that are available at most pharmacies.
Perhaps you omitted this information because you feel that most pregnant teen-agers should get counseling around this issue. However, many teen-agers will try the home test weeks, if not months, before venturing into a clinic. Knowing the answer so much sooner will encourage the teen-ager to act responsibly rather than living with doubts and anxiety.
Dear Relieved: I don't often mention home pregnancy testing kits because many professionals in the field don't think they are appropriate for young teens. "Relatively accurate" are key words. If a woman gets a positive result, she should certainly get rechecked at a clinic right away. Negative results are less frequent, but could give a false sense of security, delaying medical help and reducing the options available to someone with an unwanted pregnancy.
Another reason experts are reluctant to recommend home tests is that performing them requires some care. Nervous young teens may not be very careful or patient about following directions strictly.
Dear Beth: My boyfriend and I don't use anything unless we happen to be near a drugstore so we can buy a condom. One of my girlfriends says that her boyfriend just carries plastic wrap in the car and it works like a charm. She has never gotten pregnant. It sounds kind of silly to me. What do you think?
Dear Concerned: Your girlfriend is very lucky--so far. Plastic wrap is much too unreliable a method for a person to use who really wants to be safe from pregnancy or infection. It can slip or tear, and does not provide safe protection against things like the AIDS virus.
People who do not have the means to use reliable protection are not in a position to have safe sex. If you are going to continue having intercourse, buy several condoms next time you're near a drugstore.
Dear Beth: My best friend and I are going to different high schools. She doesn't seem to care. She is getting closer to some other girls I always thought were nerds and acts like she doesn't care about our friendship.
I could do things with other friends at school, but I feel I'd have to kiss up to them. What should I do?
Dear Friendless: You are both growing and changing, and she's getting a new taste in friendships. Since you're going to different schools, you should try to make better friends with kids in your new school.
It pays to put your best foot forward if you're trying to impress new people. However, "kissing up to them," if it means trying to act like someone you're not, won't work in the long run. See if you can't win them over by being very cordial, but staying true to your real self.