What do I need to know about birth control?

One of the toughest decisions that a lot of teens face is whether to have sex. If people decide to have sex, it means they must also take responsibility to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

In the United States, the teenage pregnancy rate is higher than in many other countries. Approximately 750,000 teens become pregnant every year and most didn’t plan on becoming pregnant. In addition to preventing unplanned pregnancies, people who have sex must protect themselves from STDs. For those having sex, condoms must always be used every time to protect against STDs.

The most effective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs is abstinence. Couples who do decide to have sex can choose from many effective birth control methods.

Talk to your doctor about what birth control method is best for you.

You may be surprised — some popular ones aren’t as effective as people might think.

Can I smoke pot while I get cancer treatment?

Well, it’s complicated.  By federal law, possessing cannabis (marijuana) is illegal in the United States. And getting any drug off the street is a bad idea—since you are basically putting something dangerous into your body that could change how well your cancer treatment works.

So the short answer is no.

But if you are interested in finding ways to deal with symptoms like nausea or loss of appetite, there are some safe and effective medications that might just do the trick.

Also, medicines called cannabinoids work by affecting the area of the brain that controls nausea, vomiting, and appetite. Cannabinoids are used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in people who have already taken other medications to treat this type of nausea and vomiting without good results.

Talk to your doctor and figure out what is going to work best.

Here’s more information about medical cannibis and cannabinoid use if you want to read up.

The laws in your state may be different if you are over the age of 18. For more about the Medical Marijuana Program in California, click here.

When can I have sex again? (girls)

With time, your usual sexual feelings will return. You may have sex when you feel ready. And it’s okay to wait until you have completely recovered.

When you are ready, take it slow. Let your partner know how you feel. Tell her or him what you would like and what feels good. Depending on your health, you may need to find new ways of pleasing each other. For example, you may need to change positions to make having sex more comfortable.

Talk to your doctor about birth control, if you have questions.

How long should I wait after chemo or radiation to have sex?

We recommend that you wait at least 72 hours after chemotherapy to have sex. This is the average time it takes for the chemo to leave your system. Having sex sooner could expose your partner to the effects of chemotherapy.

Radiation therapy does not linger in the body, so there is no risk to your partner. You do not have to wait.

What level should my neuts be to have sex?

Your Absolute Neutrophil Count (also called ANC neutrophils, neuts. Granulocytes or grans) should be at least “1” before having sex. This includes all sexual activity such as masturbating, vaginal, oral or anal sex.

ANC (neuts or grans) reported in different ways

In conversation we may say:




On test results you will see:

1 x 109/L



You may read:

1,000 or

 1 x 103/microliter


Why? Because any sexual activity can spread germs and may cause infections. Neuts are white blood cells that fight germs and can prevent infection.

During foreplay (making out, touching) and all sexual activity, germs that naturally live on the skin can enter your body. This could cause an infection. Infections that would be minor skin problems for someone with good health, can be more serious if your neuts are low.

It is also possible to get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) if you have unprotected sex with an infected person. With low neuts, your immune system is too weak to fight off infection, and an STI could become very serious. Even if your neuts are normal, protect yourself by using a condom every time you have sex (vaginal, oral or anal sex.) There are male and female condoms that can protect you.

What level should my platelets be to have sex?

Your platelet count should be at least 50 before having sex. This includes all sexual activity such as masturbating, vaginal, oral or anal sex.

The platelet count is reported in different ways

In conversation we may say:




On test results you will see:

50 x 109/L



You may read:

50,000 or

 50 x 103/microliter


Why? Because sexual activity can cause bleeding. It doesn’t have to be rough sex. There can be such a tiny amount of blood that you can’t even see it. This can be dangerous if your platelets are low.

Platelets are cells in your blood that stick together to help make a clot and stop bleeding. If you do not have enough platelets, your body cannot stop the bleeding.