Karla is a 17-year-old Christian teen who recently found herself in a compromising position. She was at a party, began drinking with friends and had sex with a boy she hardly knows. Worried that she might become pregnant, Karla’s friend told her to go to the drugstore and buy the morning after pill. She didn’t need to tell her parents or have a prescription.

Frightened and ashamed, Karla purchased the pill, three days later she is questioning whether she induced an abortion. The guilt is also getting to her. She wants to tell her parent because she is feeling sick and has had some bleeding.

Karla represents one in five sexually active teens now using emergency contraceptives for birth control. That number represents an increase from 1 in 12 a decade ago. According to the CDC, easy access and relaxed age restrictions have led to the increase. Teens can now buy the drug without a prescription.

But what are the mind, body and spirit consequences of using such a drug? Rarely do we hear discussion about the impact this type of sexual freedom produces.

Physically, emergency contraceptives do not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI). So while Karla wanted to prevent pregnancy, unprotected sex still left her vulnerable to an STI. Also, the effectiveness of the contraceptive is uncertain as Karla took it three days after her sexual encounter. And in tracking her cycle, Karla had unprotected sex just prior to ovulation.

Emotionally, Karla feels guilty from having casual sex. Her self-esteem has plummeted and is impacting her relationships. Now sober, she doesn’t want to face the boy she hooked up with and feels she left an intimate part of herself with someone she barely knows. Her adolescent brain didn’t make a good judgment and she feels depressed and anxious.

Spiritually, Karla knows she sinned and repented. She decided to tell her parents because she was afraid of the bleeding and didn’t know what was happening to her body. Her parents lovingly encouraged her to learn from this, make better future decisions and problem-solve ways to avoid such a situation in the future. They also scheduled a visit with her pediatrician who will test her for STIs, monitor the bleeding and follow her for possible pregnancy or miscarriage.

Karla now realizes that causal sex comes with a price and isn’t the carefree act her friends made it appear to be. The worry she has over the consequences and the lack of understanding of what the pill actually did to a possibly fertilized egg bothers her. She wants to help other young women understand what is at stake.

The realities of emergency contraceptives