Teens are not as mature as adults, but their reproductive systems (and hormones!) still work the same way. Precautions are necessary to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. The subject of birth control should be a natural component of every sex conversation you have with your teen. Dr. Vinita Goyal, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, offers details about appropriate contraceptive options for teens.
Note: This is not a list of birth control recommendations. Have a frank discussion with your gynecologist to determine what type of birth control is best for your child's needs, behavior, personality and health.
"Experts in our field believe that long-acting, reversible contraceptives or 'forgettable' methods, such as the implant and intrauterine device, have the unique ability to decrease the rates of unintended pregnancy," says Goyal. For busy teens who may have difficulty remembering to take their contraception every day, "'Forgettable' contraception may be the best option," says Goyal. "No matter which type of contraception is chosen, the best way for sexually active teens to prevent unintended pregnancy is to use a highly effective method consistently and correctly."
Remember, pregnancy isn't the only issue here; there is still the reality of STDs to consider. "The safest way to minimize the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection is to use a condom with every act of sexual intercourse," Goyal says, even if you are on another type of birth control.
For more information about discussing sexual health issues with your children, visit Advocates for Youth, Campaign for Our Children and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Also, May 5, 2010, is The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
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