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Ages & Stages

This table provides information about both over-the-counter and prescription forms of birth control. However, many mothers and fathers will not feel comfortable having sexually blunt conversations or discussing contraception with their teen. If you’re nodding your head in recognition, call your youngster’s pediatrician. He or she regularly counsels young patients about sexual behavior, birth-control methods and techniques for preventing STDs. Many times, your son’s or daughter’s doctor can provide or prescribe a suitable form of contraception right there in the office, or refer an adolescent to an appropriate facility in your community.

Methods of Birth Control for Sexually Active Teens

Method

What Is It?

Advantages

Disadvantages

Barrier Methods

Rhythm Method
Consistent Use: 80-90%
Typical Teen Use: Ineffective

A woman is most likely to conceive starting approximately five days before she ovulates and ending a day or two afterward. During this time, she should refrain from having vaginal intercourse. To follow the rhythm method, women may be taught three techniques for predicting ovulation: (1) keeping records of what day of the month her menstrual cycle starts, (2) taking her temperature before getting out of bed in the morning, and (3) inspecting her cervical mucus for color and texture, also every morning.

  • No side effects.
  • No devices.
  • Free.
  • Requires a level of diligence that is well beyond most teens and many adults. In addition, at this age girls' menstrual cycles are unpredictable.
  • Not usually recommended for teens, on account of its high failure rate.

Withdrawal Method
Consistent Use: 81-96%
Typical Teen Use: Ineffective
 

Withdrawing the penis from the vagina just prior to ejaculation.

  • No side effects, apart from both partners' anxiety over whether of not the boy will pull out in time.
  • No devices.
  • Free.
  • Not pulling out in time. Even when the man withdraws before reaching orgasm, his penis has leaked semen containing thousands of sperm and possibly bacteria, viruses and other germs into the vagina.
  • High failure rate.

Latex Condom
Consistent Use: 88-98%
Typical Teen Use: 65%
 

A thin sheath of rubber that slips over the penis and is tipped with a small nipple-like reservoir for catching semen. Condoms are also made of other materials, like polyurethane and lambskin, but only latex prophylactics have been proved to safeguard against STDs. Condoms' effectiveness can be improved upon by using them in combination with a spermicide. Some brands come prelubricated with the spermicide nonoynol-9.

  • Available without a prescription.
  • Easy to use.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Protects against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Needs to be used each time.
  • Can break or slip off during sex.
  • Some people are allergic to latex.
  • Needs to be used properly.

Female Condom (Vaginal Pouch)
Consistent Use: 94-95%
Typical Teen Use: Not known

A prelubricated polyurethane sheath similar in design to its male counterpart. When the bulky device is inserted into the vagina, the closed end shields the cervix, the sheath lines the vaginal walls, and the ringed open end hangs outside the vagina to cover the labia. For maximum protection, should be used with a spermicide 

  • Available without a prescription.
  • The only female contraceptive that defends against STDs.
  • Difficult to insert.
  • Outter ring may slip into the vagina during intercourse.
  • Diminished sexual sensation
  • More expensive than the male condom.

Diaphragm
Consistent Use: 94%
Typical Teen Use: 82%

Cervical Cap
Consistent Use*: 91/74%
Typical Teen Use*: 82/64%
 

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped soft rubber barrier, worn internally, that blocks sperm from coming into contact with it. Up to six hours before intercourse, a girl inserts the flexible device into her vagina and pushes it all the way back. The cap, which resembles a thimble, fits firmly onto the opening of the cervix. Both contraceptives must be used with a spermicide jelly or cream and both must remain inside for at least eight hours after intercourse.
A girl should visit her gynecologist anytime she gains or loses ten or more pounds to see if she needs to be fitted for a larger or smaller diaphragm.
 

  • No side effects.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Neither method is popular with teens. Many girls are turned off by the thought of having a foreign object inside of them during or after intercourse.
  • Not all young women can be fitted for cervical caps, which come in only four sizes.
  • Can lead to increased in urinary-tract infections and bacterial vaginosis.
  • Requires doctor's appointment for fitting.

Spermicide
Consistent Use: 94%
Typical Teen Use: 70%
 

Spermicide, in the form of over-the-counter contraceptive foams, jellies, gels, creams, suppositories and absorbable films, immobilizes and kills sperm. Shortly before sexual intercourse, the girl inserts the product deep into her vagina. Body heat causes the spermicide to melt, forming a protective coating.

  • No presciption necessary.
  • Messy, less effective than other methods.
  • Can be used with condoms to provide additional protection in case condom breaks or slips off.

Contraceptive Sponge
Consistent Use: 94%
Typical Use (Adults): 75%

The round foam device is presaturated with spermicide. Once inserted into the vagina, it blocks and kills sperm for up to twenty-four hours. 

  • Convenient and easy to use.
  • OTC.
  • Teenagers can have difficult positioning the spong, which occasionally will dislodge during intercourse.

Hormonal Methods

Birth-Control Pill
Consistent Use: 97-99.9%
Typical Teen Use: 64-75%

The only oral contraceptive and the most widely used form among women. There are two types: The combination pill consists of synthetic estrogen and progesterone, the two female sex hormones that share control of the menstrual cycle. The progestin-only pill, rarely prescribed for teenagers, contains just progesterone. They prevent pregnancy in different ways and at different points in the reproductive process. The combination pill is now available in a "patch" form as well.

The clinician prescribing the pill will explain what the teen should do if she misses a dose.

  • Convenient and highly effective at preventing pregnancy.
  • Young patients are often surprised to learn that oral contraceptives confer several impressive health benefits, including reduced risks of ovarian and endometrial cancers, benign breast tumors, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal (ectopic) pregnancy and iron-deficiency anemia. Also used to treat acne, irregular menstruation, menstrual cramps and other conditions.
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding is common for the first two to three months. This indicates that the body is adapting to the hormonal drug and is not a cause for worry.
  • Serious side effects, though rare, include blood clots, stroke, hypertension, migraine headaches.
  • Requires doctor’s visit, but does not require pelvic exam.
  • Must be taken consistently every day.

Depo-Provera
Consistent Use: 99.7%
Typical Teen Use: 62%–80% 

Because not all teenagers are able to take oral contraceptives faithfully every day, this longacting injectable progesterone-like drug (medroxyprogesterone) has been gaining on the birth-control pill in popularity. One shot of Depo-Provera in the arm or buttock prevents conception for approximately three months. A monthly shot is also available that contains both an estrogen and a progestin.

  • A girl’s only responsibility is to return to the doctor’s office in 12 weeks for her next injection.
  • “The Shot” also protects against endometrial cancer and iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Weight gain and irregular menstrual bleeding.
  • Once the hormone is discontinued, fertility may take up to two years to return to normal (usually within one year).

Other Types of Birth Control

IUD (Intrauterine Device)
97.4%–99.2% 

A physician inserts this small soft-plastic birthcontrol device into the uterus, where it remains for one year up to several years, depending on the type. 

  • Provides safe, effective and inexpensive long-term birth control.
  • IUDs were once believed to increase the risk of incurring a sexually transmitted infection. Though this has never been proved conclusively, safety concerns persist. Since adolescents have high rates of STDs, intrauterine devices are rarely recommended for them.
  • Side effects: menstrual cramps, heavy periods.

 

Last Updated
5/11/2013
Source
Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.