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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Pregnancy and Parenting » What more can I do? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: What more can I do?
wonder_woman
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Hello Scarleteen. For the past four months I have been scouring your website head-to-toe in search of something that can ease my mind.

Let me start from the beginning. One night a boy and I ended up having dry sex (with at least both of us in underwear) and manual sex (I was receptive). Since then, I've been in a whirlwind of stress about a pregnancy risk that I know is not real.

I've read birth control bingo, and the easy pregnancy risk assessment articles, both of which confirm that I had no real risk.

However, since then, I've taken six hpts, one blood test, have spoken to three physicians, and had an ultrasound done by what would have been 12 weeks after my "risk". All of these things again confirmed the likely result, that I am not pregnant.

I've seen counseling, and none of it seems to help. Instead, I continually search the web for pregnancy symptoms and convince myself that I have every one that would correspond to the week of pregnancy I would presumably be in. (this has included a range of things, from nausea, to increased acne, to stomach bloating, gas, etc.).

I've done the reading, I've done the doctor's visits, and I'm still not convinced. At some level I know that I'm fine, it's just that my mind won't let this go. Could you maybe help me talk this out?

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Robin Lee
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HI wonder_woman and welcome to scarleteen:

To start with:

Can you talk some more about the doctors' visits? Have you talked with the doctors about how you realize that your fears are not grounded in fact?

What about the counselling? Can you say more about what's happened with that and how specifically it hasn't been helpful to you?

I'm wondering, for one thing, if any of the doctors or the counsllor have talked with you about anxiety in general, and medications and techniques to reduce anxiety.

As we talk about this, do you think you can decide that you're just not going to read online about pregnancy stories and pregnancy symptoms?

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Robin

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wonder_woman
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Well, for each of the doctors visits I essentially described my sexual activity in question, and just wanted to see what they would say. None of them even thought to test for pregnancy, and only did so if I demonstrated concern. It was their reaction to ease my mind, I'm sure, because they did not even want to test at first. I guess I never really shared with them the fact that I understand how babies are made. I suppose they just thought a quick test would ease my mind (which I'm sure would for any normal person!).

The counseling eventually did wonder if I was OCD, but we determined that since I've never felt this anxious about anything before (I really couldn't pinpoint another instance, without REALLY contriving my memory), we decided not to medicate. So far, after getting the ultrasound at "12 weeks" I haven't been back to counseling, mainly because I think I'm being so ridiculous.

And I probably could stop reading things like yahoo answers, but I just really enjoy the prose style at scarleteen. It seems real and does seem to help ease my mind, but only temporarily, as it seems.

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Robin Lee
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HI There,

No, I wasn't actually suggesting that you stop reading the material here, only that you stop going out and looking for material the accuracy of which is questionable. [Smile] It sounds like that is feeding your fears more than anything.

Counselling is often not a quick fix, so I would encourage you to go back, if you can, and do some more work with the counsellor. What do you think?

While you may not have something clinically diagnosable, it's clear that this fear of yours is clinging pretty obstinately.

What does it tell you that the doctors weren't interested in testing you for pregnancy until you pushed the issue?

I'm also wondering how you feel about the sexual activity you engaged in, outside of your fears that it could have gotten you pregnant. Was that your first time engaging in sexual activity with a partner? How did you feel about the person you were with?

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Robin

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wonder_woman
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I supposed I could go back, it would not be logistically difficult, just embarrassing.

Yeah, it does help to think about how none of the doctors decided to test until I asked again. I kind of did that on purpose, as a way to prove to myself that my personal over-reaction is definitely not the clinical one! Still, here I am, worrying.

As for the sexual activity, yes that was as far as I had ever gone. It was a relationship situation that I knew was temporary, since we had kind of discussed that early on. In my mind I thought I was totally fine, and actually kind of welcoming the idea of "no strings" for experimenting, but maybe it backfired? It's possible that I'm much more sensitive that I initially thought.

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Robin Lee
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Yes, I understand it being embarrassing, but know that counsellors see all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. The fact that you're still not settled, and are struggling to find a way to help yourself feel settled,, is a surefire sign that you still would benefit from some sort of outside help.

Do you think the no-strings-attached thing backfired? Put another way, what do you feel now when you think about it?

It sounds, from here, as if you're pretty baffled as to where this fear is coming from. Am I reading that correctly?

What were your feelings and thoughts about pregnancy and having children before the past few months?

You said you've been all over our site, so you've likely seen this, but if you haven't, perhaps it's time to have a read:

Chicken Soup for the Pregnancy Symptom Freakout's Soul

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Robin

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wonder_woman
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Hah yeah, I've definitely read that. Honestly, it's what inspired me to think I needed an ultrasound to begin with (probably not what ya'll intended! oh well..)

Yeah I've been all kinds of confused. I can't understand why this has been such a struggle. When I think about the no-strings thing, I'm also pretty confused. I've never been in a serious relationship ever, and this wasn't any different, it just went further sexually. I never expected to throw me for a loop, and a part of me feels like that's not what this is about.

As for pregnancy, it is totally unacceptable for me at this point. Thinking about what it would mean for my self esteem, to know that I failed to be responsible, what my family would think, is a lot of terrifying emotion.

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Robin Lee
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Thefear of letting ourselves down, and our family down, is pretty huge. Have you ever had another time when you greatly feared that you'd let your family down by doing or not doing something?

It sounds, from what you're saying, as if you've had a lot of physical symptoms that you've been attributing to pregnancy. I don't know exactly what those symptoms are, but I do know that many of the things people attribute to pregnancy when pregnancy is not possible and has, as in your case, even been ruled out, can be byproducts of stress and anxiety.

Did the counsellor you saw give you any anxiety-reduction strategies?

What do you think about making an appointment with a doctor to talk about this from the stress and anxiety angle?

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Robin

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wonder_woman
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I haven't felt like I'd let myself or my family down like this before. Nothing really has matched the possibility of pregnancy, not grades or anything like that.

The symptoms I've been attributing have been everything, and I've had or noticed symptoms that seem to correlate with the development of pregnancy week by week, which has not helped at all (since they seem to corroborate my fear). I've heard that stress and anxiety can lead to GI issues, but not really to things like weird abdominal and back pain, which are the latest of my worries.

So you're saying I should repeat an appointment with the OB? Or just go back to the counselor, or like a psychiatrist? (She had previously suggested things like meditation and going back to things that make me happy, like friends or exercise. That hasn't really been sustainable, since I'm here).

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Robin Lee
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What comes to your mind when you remember that you've had several negative pregnancy tests, plus an ultrasound showing that you aren't pregnant?

I do think that it's important for you to go back into counselling, and perhaps to see a doctor. It's clear that the belief that you're pregnant, even with evidence to the contrary, has sunken in pretty deeply, and it's going to take work to shake it, work that a counsellor can help you with, and that a doctor may be able to support you with.

I don't imagine it feels very fair that something you didn't consciously set out to believe now takes work to undo. You mentioned that your counsellor recommended meditation, something that also takes work. It's not something where we're going to sit down and say: "okay, I'm going to meditate. It's going to make me feel better" and it happens. this isn't to say that meditation is the right thing for you--only time would tell that--but I mention it as an example of how we often can't just wish that something that's become a big part of us is just going to go away overnight.

So, my suggestions to you are:

1. Make another appointment with your counsellor. You can even share with her that you are embarrased by this, and that you'd really hoped to go it on your own.
2. Decide that you're not going to read any more information about pregnancy experiences. It sounds like doing so has been more harmful than helpful.
3. Talk with your counsellor about short-term ways a doctor might be able to help you with medication.

What do you think?

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Robin

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wonder_woman
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What comes to mind is that "I totally knew that already." It's like I never really believed I was pregnant in the first place. In fact, I remember right after the ultrasound all I could do was laugh and smile, and I thought that would be the end of it.

Alright I could certainly make another appointment. I think another reason I originally stopped going was because I felt like my fear would go come and go; sometimes I would feel totally normal again, and then sometimes it just all comes crashing back. So what started happening was I would be sitting with the counselor, and feel like I had nothing to say because I had started feeling better. But once I leave, I relapse, so to speak.

But I guess this is reason enough to go back, and I'll be sure to bring this exact reason for quitting (above paragraph) with her, and maybe she'll help with ways to avoid relapsing.

And you're absolutely right; I can't believe that i'm in this spot, since I've always felt I'm such a rational person. I had always heard that people with depression or anxiety say that they can't control their emotions, and to be honest I had never fully grasped what they meant. I guess I do now.

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Robin Lee
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Yes, that feeling of not being able to control one's emotions is pretty disorienting.

And yes, if you share the cyclical nature of these fears with your counsellor, she can help you work on the fear while you're with her, even if you're not feeling it at that very moment.

It's late where I am, and it's been a long day, so I'm headed off for the night.

Please feel free to check in when you've made that appointment. [Smile]

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Robin

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wonder_woman
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Alright, well I have an appointment made.

Again, I'm feeling on an upswing, but I've felt this way before.

In the meantime, I had a question. I think I may have found two conflicting pieces of advice given on Scarleteen:

The first is from Birth Control Bingo: "Some sexual activities which do not pose any risk of pregnancy include: manual sex (so long as a partner does not have fresh semen on their hands or is not ejaculating on or near a partner's vulva)"

This seems to contradict what was said here, on a response to a question: "Similarly, there's nothing about manual sex ('fingering') that could cause pregnancy unless your partner has fresh ejaculate (or possibly pre-ejaculate) on their hands."

Link here--> http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/can_you_get_pregnant_from_kissing

I was wondering why pre-ejaculate wasn't mentioned in the Bingo article, or if is really just not a concern? I realize this may seem off topic, but I found it relevant, because a large part of my emotional reaction has been the idea that I thought I had accounted for every risk before engaging in manual sex, only to find out that there is a ill-defined risk after all.

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Heather
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Because it is a non-issue when there is not direct genital-to-genital contact.

When it *can* potentially present pregnancy risks, there will have been direct genital-to-genital contact, which is already covered in the Bingo piece.

Make sense?

[ 11-04-2012, 12:51 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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wonder_woman
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OH i see, so not finger-to-genital pre-ejaculate, despite what it says from the "Can I get pregnant from kissing?" I guess I just didn't understand that there had been direct genital to genital contact implied in the second source.
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Heather
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It might help to understand that in order for a pregnancy to happen, not only do there need to be at least several hundred viable sperm cells (not just one, like a lot of people are taught), but that there also needs to be not only a decent amount of fluid to both keep them viable and able to get anywhere, but the right kind of fluid.

So, when there is direct contact, there *may* sometimes be enough viable trace sperm in pre-ejaculate AND the right conditions for a conception, including the help of vaginal fluids, as always needed. But without that direct contact, even if there are enough sperm cells, they're just not going to able to get from point A to point B, then to point C and so on.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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wonder_woman
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Ah ok. That does make sense. Unfortunately, a similarly posed question on the boards on the Planned Parenthood website said that it's "technically possible". I would link to it, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to on these boards.

I mean, this is just to make me feel better for the time being, but as the what i've posted previously mentions, it's likely not a permanent fix. This weekend has been fraught with what i'm afraid are "round ligament pains", despite have basically no positive data of pregnancy. :/

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Heather
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Well, one really can't say anything BUT that to cover our butts, because it is technically possible, it's just very, very unlikely.

And really, the long story short is that any kind of genital fluid sharing creates potential risks of infections or pregnancy, so if someone does not want to take ANY of those risks, they need not to have any fluid sharing, including indirectly.

So, for now, sounds to me like the best thing you can do is get to the point where a period arrives and/or you can take a pregnancy test, which I strongly suspect will be negative. Then, moving forward from here, you can make different choices around sexual activities so you're not taking even teeny-tiny risks you aren't okay taking. In this case, something as simple as asking a partner to wash their hands before any contact with your genitals -- which is wise just to prevent bacterial infections and irritation -- should tend to that. OR, you can opt out of any of these activities until the bigger problems that underscore them for you are resolved.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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wonder_woman
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Oh of course! I've been having this internal debate for a while now, and have had 3 periods (just all roughly 3 days shorter than normal and much, much, lighter). That, and roughly 6 hpts, and a negative "12-week" u/s, because I had finally brought this up with my doctor.

Thanks for all your help. I understand that all these questions can seem uber-frustrating, but I can't help but ask them. I'm basically positive that there wasn't any pre-ejaculate anyway, since his boxers were on, and I doubt he had touched himself first or anything.

Thanks you for your clarification, and I think in future it will help me avoid "surprise risks" like this time. Just the idea that I hadn't accounted for everything really threw me off, emotionally, as soon as I had discovered them.

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Heather
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You're welcome. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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wonder_woman
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All and all though, I think my original post was how to cope with this fear, even after I've had basically no risk and quite a bit of testing done.

Would you still advise that I test again?

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Heather
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Do you think taking another test would make you feel better? It seems to me that the only aim of taking another test now would be your own peace of mind, so if you think it will help with that, I certainly don't see any harm in testing again.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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wonder_woman
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I'm not sure if it would. I mean, I had an ultrasound done and I'm still thinking of ways that it could have been wrong, and feeling like theres a mass in my abdomen. I'm not sure how helpful testing again would be for the long term.
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Heather
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Okay. So maybe the better place for your efforts and energies is working to trust the results of those tests already done?

Additionally, perhaps you can think of some ways to spend time and mental energy you have been spending on all of this on something radically different? In other words, work to dump the amount of real estate you have been giving this in your head by renting out that space to something else?

[ 11-05-2012, 10:56 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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wonder_woman
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Yes, i think you're right. It's difficult to do that though, when I feel like i'm experiencing physical symptoms (heartburn, larger breasts, skin changes, what feels like a lump in my abdomen, pelvic/hip pain, etc. etc.). It really throws all my trust in these results out the window and I spiral into worry again.
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Heather
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Did the doctors you have already seen look into these symptoms for you?

For instance, did they do things like also evaluating your diet, checking your abdomen for any digestive issues, looking into that pain?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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wonder_woman
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They did some blood workups to check for infections and thyroid, as well as a routine STI screening, but other than that not really.
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Heather
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Well, personally, if you have access to healthcare, I'd want to have all of those things looked into. Not because of possible pregnancy, because I think it's very clear that's not the issue. But to make sure there isn't SOME health-based, physical basis for all of these things, or to find out if they're psychosomatic.

If they are based in something actually going on with your health, that's obviously something you need to know in case you need more evaluation or treatment for something. If they're not, that's important to know, too, since I'd say that many different psychosomatic symptoms and the inability to let go of all of this would suggest you probably need some ongoing mental healthcare to be able to deal with and move past this.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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wonder_woman
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Yes, the whole "is it psychosomatic" or is it a real symptom or something else is definitely key chewing up my mind.

So I should see my doctor again?

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Heather
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If you didn't bring up all of these physical symptoms to them and they didn't evaluate all of them for you? I'd say yes if you have the ability to do that.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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wonder_woman
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ok thanks for your advice. I think this is the right way to go. Fortunately, I have a really solid support from one of my parents right now, so I have dr's appointments lined up. Should I update as soon as those are through? Also, let me geek out for a second: I read your chapter in "yes means yes" a while ago, because a friend of mine was reading the book, and I JUST recognized your name...holy cow! I didn't realize who I was talking to!
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Heather
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Aw, shucks. [Smile]

So glad to hear you've got a parent to lean on with this!

You're welcome to update here whenever you'd like, or not at all: whatever you need.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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wonder_woman
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Ah so this has been a while, but I've spent some more time perusing the message boards here at Scarleteen.

There was one bit of wording from a volunteer that I quite like, in which the volunteer described the risk of pregnancy from precum and transfer of finger as "not even worth thinking about."

Does that sound like an accurate description?

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Claire P.
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Not to say you shouldn't take proper safety precautions whenever possible, but yes, those are not reasons for immense alarm over possible pregnancy risk.

[ 11-18-2012, 11:30 PM: Message edited by: Claire P. ]

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wonder_woman
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Ok so not for "immense alarm", but just any thought at all?
Posts: 41 | Registered: Oct 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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