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Birth Control - Teens and Birth Control

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For teen girls

Some teenage girls are worried about visiting a health professional for birth control.

  • Don't be shy about protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections by having a condom on hand and asking your partner to use it. Or you can use a female condom.
  • If you are concerned about having a pelvic exam or keeping your health information private, talk to your health professional or a family planning clinic counselor.
  • If you have not been sexually active before now, a pelvic exam is not necessary.
  • If you have been sexually active, it's very important that you are screened for STIs every year. Some STIs can be screened for with a urine test.
  • Have emergency contraception on hand or know how to get it if a condom breaks.

Before choosing and using a birth control method, be honest with yourself. If it failed and you started a pregnancy, what would you do? Are you ready to raise a child? Is an abortion an acceptable option for you? Answering these questions can help you know how committed you are to preventing a pregnancy. For most sexually active teens, it is worth it to use the most effective birth control methods possible.

When choosing a birth control method, also consider protecting yourself against sexually transmitted infections. Condoms give the most effective STI protection for both partners, no matter what other birth control method you are using. But as birth control, condoms used alone are not highly dependable.

Birth control methods for teenagers
Method Consideration

Abstinence

  • Not having sex is the most effective method of birth control and STI prevention.

Barrier methods

  • Condoms are more likely to prevent pregnancy if you use them with a spermicide or another birth control method. If the condom breaks, you will need to use emergency contraception.
  • Male condoms are inexpensive and easy to get without a prescription.
  • Male condoms give teen boys control over their STI risks and lower the risk of becoming a parent.
  • Female condoms cost more than male condoms and can be difficult to use properly.
  • A diaphragm or cervical cap with a spermicidal cream, foam, or jelly can be difficult to use without first learning how from your health professional.

Hormonal pill, skin patch, or vaginal ring

  • These are the most popular methods used by teenage girls.
  • You must remember to take a pill every day at about the same time.
  • Talk to your health professional about any side effects. Another type of hormonal birth control may be better for you if side effects are a problem.
  • After stopping birth control pills (at the end of a full pack), you can become pregnant in the next month.
  • The patch camera.gif is changed every week, which you may prefer to taking a pill each day.
  • The vaginal ring camera.gif is a foldable, flexible ring of plastic that stays in the vagina for 3 consecutive weeks.
  • Using a condom with these methods will help lower the risk of getting an STI.

Hormonal implants

  • The hormonal implant is an extremely effective method of birth control. The implant, which is about the size of a matchstick, is inserted under the skin on the inside of your upper arm. This releases hormones that prevent pregnancy for about 3 years.
  • This method is convenient and does not require use every day or with each act of intercourse.
  • With this method, you only need a new implant every 3 years.
  • This method doesn't protect you from sexually transmitted infections.
  • The most common side effect is irregular bleeding. Menstrual cycles also become shorter or stop completely.

Birth control shot

  • This method is convenient and does not require use every day or with each act of intercourse.
  • This method requires that you see your health professional every 3 months.
  • Side effects of weight gain and irregular bleeding may be bothersome.
  • The shot causes mild bone thinning when it is used for 2 or more years. This is of special concern during the teen years, when young women are normally building bone strength. Be sure to get enough daily calcium and weight-bearing exercise. And discuss with your health professional your bone health and birth control options after 2 years of using the shot.

Intrauterine device (IUD)

  • The IUD camera.gif can be used by women under 20.
  • There are side effects that you should discuss with your health professional.
  • Starting an IUD isn't an option for a woman who has a pelvic infection or a sexually transmitted infection. Inserting an IUD can carry infection up into the uterus, leading to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Fertility awareness

This is not recommended, especially for teenagers, because it:

  • Often leads to pregnancy, even with careful planning and not having sex on fertile days.
  • Doesn't protect you from sexually transmitted infections.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 22, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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