I’m so afraid of getting pregnant

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I was raised in a religious home where sex before marriage just wasn't a thing and I was happy with waiting. Now, though, my personal philosophy has changed enough that I don't have an issue with having sex, and kind of want to engage with the dating world while I'm still young (26).

But when I was offered a hookup recently, I got a little anxious and backed out quickly. I really fear getting pregnant, and all the research I've read says that no matter what combination of birth control you take, there's always the potential (maybe 1 to 10 percent chance) of getting pregnant, which, for me, would be terrible. I would not get an abortion.

I don't know – I guess the question I want to ask is ... how do I get over this particular mental hurdle? Should I even do so? Thanks.

- Hurdle

First, talk to a medical doctor – an OBGYN if you can. They know the real risk here. One to 10 percent is a big range. Different forms of birth control get you closer to zero.

Second, know that you can have physical intimacy without engaging in the kind of sex that can result in pregnancy. I'm not sure if you've already engaged in other activities with partners, but it's not all or nothing, and there's actually a lot of "all" that doesn’t involve the one thing giving you anxiety.

The best way to get over this mental hurdle, though, is to get the best information. Don't make up math. Have an expert tell you what works – and also what you can ask of your partners.

If you talk to a doctor and it's still a big stress – if your brain is focused on the one percent chance of pregnancy that might come with some IUDs, for instance - don't cut yourself off from dating. Please enjoy the stuff in paragraph two. You are young and you should pursue what you want, in any ways that feel safe to you. Others will understand.

Good luck. Go ask some questions.

– Meredith

Readers? What questions would you ask and of whom?