Teens and Birth Control
Whether you are male or female, your life can suddenly be changed forever by pregnancy or a Reference sexually transmitted infection (STI) Opens New Window. Think for a moment what this would be like for you.
The most dependable way to prevent pregnancy and STI infection is not to have sexual intercourse. This is called abstinence.
If you do not choose abstinence and are sexually active, always be prepared. To protect yourself and your future, think ahead about birth control methods and STI protection. Never have sex without protection. Using condoms will reduce your risk of getting an STI.
Even a single act of sexual intercourse can lead to pregnancy or an STI infection.
Take charge of your health and your future
Even if you plan not to have sex until you're older, take a little time to learn and decide about:
- Which birth control methods are available.
- Which birth control methods you know you would be able to count on every time you'd need one.
- How to use a condom to avoid getting or spreading a sexually transmitted infection, including Reference HIV Opens New Window. (Some STIs can be spread through oral sex as well as through intercourse.) If you are sexually active, male or female, always have a condom with you. Don't ever depend on someone else to have a condom when you need it.
- How to use a combination of methods for the best protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
It may not be easy to talk about sexual activity and birth control, but it is important that you know how to practice safer sex. Hopefully, you have a parent, school or church counselor, or health professional that you feel comfortable talking to. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood are private, confidential resources for learning how to be both sexual and responsible. See the Planned Parenthood website for teens at www.teenwire.com, or check your telephone listings for the Planned Parenthood office near you.
The best birth control methods for you are those that are easy for you to use (or are already in effect) each time you have intercourse. Follow up regularly with a health professional to make sure that your birth control method is working effectively for you. And if you have any side effects that are making it hard for you to use the method as directed, choose a different method.
If you have a long-term (chronic) illness or a disability, talk to a health professional about which birth control choices are best for you.
For teen boys and girls
Protect yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
- Consider the benefits of abstinence.
- If you have sex, use a condom.
- If your partner is not comfortable with using a condom, don't have sex.
- To prevent pregnancy, use another method of birth control (such as birth control pills) along with the condom.
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 Reference pelvic exam Opens New Window 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 Reference emergency contraception Opens New Window 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.
This is not recommended, especially for teenagers, because it:
Emergency contraception can be used if you have had unprotected sex or you think your birth control method may have failed. The pills can prevent a pregnancy when taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex, although they are most effective when used within 72 hours. A copper IUD is sometimes used as emergency contraception and can prevent pregnancy if it is inserted within 5 to 7 days after you have had unprotected sex.
If you have had unprotected sexual intercourse or you think your birth control method may have failed, emergency contraception is a backup to prevent a pregnancy.
It's a good idea to have emergency contraception on hand or a prescription for emergency contraception in case you ever need it. Talk to your health professional or a family planning clinic about this.
If you do use emergency contraception, be sure to follow up with your health professional to find an effective, ongoing method of birth control.
For more information, see the Emergency Contraception website at http://ec.princeton.edu/.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 3, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology