Teen Birth Control: The Options

Teens and Birth Control Options

Once you or your teen have decided that there is a need for birth control, it is time to research the options that are available. If you aren’t there yet, consider these facts about teens and sex. When you or your teen are ready, learn as much as possible about the various options available for teen birth control. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your healthcare provider or OBGYN for further information.

Abstinence

  • Pros: No physical side effects; nothing to purchase; excellent protection against sexually transmitted diseases
     
  • Cons: Both partners have to commit to this option; often no protection is used when abstinence ends
     
  • Effectiveness: The only method that is 100% effective

Implant (Implanon)

  • Pros: Continuous protection against pregnancy for three years; nothing to insert at time of intercourse; menstruation can become lighter or stop; no visible sign that person is using it once the incision heals
     
  • Cons: Requires small incision in arm for placement of implant; occasionally temporary pain at insertion site; side effects include irregular bleeding, headaches or change in appetite (but these usually resolve within three months); no protection against sexually transmitted diseases
     
  • Effectiveness: 99.9%

Contraceptive Injections (Depo-Provera)

  • Pros: Continuous protection against pregnancy for three months; nothing to apply or insert at time of intercourse; menstruation stops for over half of women; no visible sign that person is using the method
     
  • Cons: Requires injection; must remember to get the shot every three months; side effects include irregular period, weight gain or headaches; return to fertility may take a few months; no protection against sexually transmitted diseases
     
  • Effectiveness: 97% to 99% if used consistently (must get the shot every three months)

    Vaginal Ring (Nuva Ring)

    • Pros: Continuous protection against pregnancy for one month; placement doesn’t need to be exact; nothing to apply or insert at time of intercourse
       
    • Cons: Must remember to remove for one week to allow for menstruation and then must remember to insert new ring for next three weeks; is inserted vaginally; no protection from sexually transmitted diseases; ring is occasionally felt by the partner; ring sometimes comes out during sexual intercourse
       
    • Effectiveness: 99% if used correctly and consistently (ring removed and replaced each month)

    Patch

    • Pros: Nothing to apply or insert at time of intercourse
       
    • Cons: Must remember to replace patch weekly and not wear it the week of menstruation; visible – worn on skin, not available in all skin tones; no protection against sexually transmitted diseases; not recommended for women over 198 pounds
       
    • Effectiveness: 99% if used correctly and consistently (patch removed and replaced each week)

    Intrauterine Device (IUD)

    • Two types of IUDs: One contains hormones and is effective for five years, one does not contain hormones and is effective for 10 years
       
    • Pros: Nothing to apply or insert at time of intercourse; IUDs with hormones may reduce menstrual cramps and bleeding; non-hormonal IUDs are an alternative for women who cannot use hormonal birth control methods; can also be used for emergency birth control if inserted within five days after intercourse
       
    • Cons: Must be inserted and removed by a clinician; heavier periods (non-hormonal IUD); rare but serious health risks include uterine perforation or pelvic inflammatory disease; no protection against sexually transmitted diseases; not typically recommended for adolescents who have not had a baby due to small uterine size
       
    • Effectiveness: >99.9%

    Birth Control Pill

    • Pros: Nothing to apply or insert at time of intercourse; periods are shorter and more regular; ability to become pregnant returns quickly when not used; protects against certain cancers and heavy, painful periods
       
    • Cons: Must remember to take daily; possible side effects of nausea, breast tenderness, change in appetite or appetite loss; rare but serious health risks such as heart attack and stroke can occur (risks are higher for women over 35 or women who smoke); no protection against sexually transmitted diseases
       
    • Effectiveness: 92% to 99% if used correctly and consistently. Missing one or more pills increases the risk of pregnancy significantly.

    Condoms

    • Pros: Available over-the-counter; prevents most sexually transmitted diseases; can sometimes be obtained for free from clinics or other health care providers
       
    • Cons: Must be used with each act of intercourse; must be put on and removed correctly; males sometimes complain of loss of sensation
       
    • Effectiveness: 85-98% if used consistently and correctly

    Female Condom

    • Pros: Available over the counter; prevents most sexually transmitted diseases; good for those with latex allergies
       
    • Cons: Sometimes difficult to insert; must be used with each act of intercourse; can become dislodged during sex
       
    • Effectiveness: 79% to 98% if used consistently and correctly

    Diaphragm or Cervical Cap

    • Pros: Can be inserted up to two hours before intercourse; can remain in place for multiple acts of intercourse (diaphragm – 24 hours, cervical cap – 48 hours); an option for those who can’t tolerate hormonal birth control
       
    • Cons: Requires precise insertion and comfort with one’s body; may become dislodged with intercourse; may interfere with spontaneity; must be left in place for 6 to 8 hours after sex; increased risk of urinary tract infections
       
    • Effectiveness: 84% to 91% (cap) or 94% (diaphragm) if used consistently and correctly

    Spermicides

    • Pros: Available over-the-counter in different forms – creams, gels, films, foams, suppositories; adds lubrication (creams, foams, gels)
       
    • Cons: Must insert right before each act of intercourse; can cause allergic reactions; possibility of irritation that could aid sexually transmitted disease transmission
       
    • Effectiveness: 71% to 85% if used consistently and correctly

    It's always advisable to discuss birth control options with an experienced health care provider. Adolescent Medicine practices and Planned Parenthood are good choices.

    Sources:

    Hatcher, R.A., Rinehart, W., Blackburn, R., Geller, J.S., and Shelton, J.D. The Essentials of Contraceptive Technology.Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Population Information Program, 2003.

    Implanon. Organon USA. February 16, 2009. http://www.implanon-usa.com/Consumer/index.asp?C=6892739860944849537&source=google&HBX_PK=G%20Implanon%20Ad3&HBX_OU=50&gclid=CL2AmcuA4pgCFQECGgodwRljcA

    Stevens-Simon, C., Kelly, L., and Kulick, R. A village would be nice but...it takes a long-acting contraceptive to prevent repeat adolescent pregnancies. American Journal of Preventative Medicine.2001 July 21(1):60-65

    Trussell J. Contraceptive efficacy. In Hatcher RA, Trussell J, Nelson AL, Cates W, Stewart FH, Kowal D. Contraceptive Technology: Nineteenth Revised Edition. New York NY: Ardent Media, 2007. September 5, 2008.

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