Dr. Wallace:

I’m 16 and plan to get sexually intimate with my 17-year-old boyfriend. I’m not unhappy to lose my virginity, but I have a great fear of becoming pregnant. I even hate to think about it. Sean said that I need to get on the pill because he refuses to use protection.

I know I will need a doctor’s prescription to get birth control pills and I have arranged to have that done. I know that the pill stops a female’s ovulation and this prevents pregnancy, but I’m getting mixed signals on the percentage of effectiveness of the pill. Please fill me in on the details if you can.

— Nameless,

Atlantic City, N.J.

Nameless: If your boyfriend refuses to use protection, he pretty much is signaling that he has no respect for you. You’re just a sex object to him — and all the worries about the consequences of premarital sex belong only to you. For that reason, I strongly urge you to reconsider your decision to become sexually intimate with him.

In answer to your question, medical experts consider oral contraceptives (“the pill”) to be 98 percent effective. The 2 percent failure rate is a significant number. The pill combined with the use of his protection ups the “safe” percentage only to 99 percent.

The only sure way to avoid pregnancy, of course, is abstinence.

Dr. Wallace: I’ll admit that I use marijuana to relax and unwind, but I don’t drink alcohol of any kind. My fiance doesn’t do drugs, but he unwinds by drinking a few cold ones (beer). I guess you could say that we are fortunate because mixing drugs and alcohol can lead to major problems. In our discussion, we were debating whether there were more users of drugs or alcohol in our society. He thought there were more drug users and I disagreed. Both of us are employed, so we can afford to support our habits.

— Nameless,

New York, N.Y.

Nameless: You and your fiance would be more fortunate if you put your hard-earned money to better use — you’d be amazed at the amount of money that’s wasted every year on addictive habits. According to a National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an estimated 13 million Americans are abusing illegal drugs while 20 million abuse alcohol. Of course, many of them — maybe most of them — are abusing both.

Dr. Wallace: I’m 13 and love my parents very much. My heart nearly broke in half two years ago when they were divorced. My dad married a month later and my mom remarried six months after that. This was a very sad time for me. I would lie in bed at night thinking how wonderful it would be if my parents could get back together.

Well, guess what? Both of my parents are filing for a divorce because they discovered that they really do love each other and they are together again in our house. They plan to remarry in December and I’m going to be my mother’s bridesmaid. Miracles do happen if you have faith. I’m now the happiest girl in the whole USA!

— Greta,

Carson City, Nev.

Greta: Thanks for sharing your story. I wish you and your newly reconciled parents all the success in the world in making things work this time around!

— Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.