Posted: Feb 27, 2014 9:00 AM
 
Your teenage daughter is sexually active. Now what? Experts chime in on the best birth control methods to prevent teen pregnancy.

Forty-two percent of girls ages 15 to 19 are having sex. While the CDC reports that teen pregnancy is at an all-time low, more than 325,000 teen pregnancies occur annually and most (eight out of 10) are unintended. We must do our part to help our children protect themselves.

Encourage abstinence

Encourage abstinence as the only certain way to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

Even if your teen is no longer a virgin, he or she can still practice abstinence. "My daughter was having sex with her boyfriend of two years," says mom Kandi. "They broke up, thank goodness, and now she's sworn off sex for a while. She realized that she just really wasn't ready for that level of commitment."

"Encourage abstinence as the only certain way to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections," says Yvonne Hamby, project director for JSI, a Boston public health consulting firm. "But if your daughter does choose to become sexually active, provide her with information so that she can choose a contraceptive method that matches her lifestyle and protects against STDs."

Long-term birth control options

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends long-term birth control options for sexually active teenagers. With these safe, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) options, which are more than 99 percent effective, a teen is less likely to "forget" that morning pill...

  • packet of birth control pillsContraceptive injections release a hormone that stops ovulation and thickens the mucus of the cervix to make it difficult for sperm to pass. Each injection lasts eight to 12 weeks.
  • Hormonal intrauterine devices (IUC and IUS) release hormones to thin the lining of the uterus and make it difficult for a fertilized egg to attach. These devices can remain in place for up to five years.
  • The non-hormonal intrauterine device with copper is a hormone-free IUD that is fitted inside the uterus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. This option can last from five to 10 years.
  • The sub-dermal implant is inserted under the skin on the upper arm and releases hormones that stop ovulation. Lasts three years.

What you say matters

"The best 'birth control option' for a teen is a close, loving relationship between the teen and her parents, which encourages her to feel good about herself and to ask questions or talk about sex," says psychiatrist and bestselling author Dr. Carole Lieberman.

Bill Albert is the chief program officer at The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and says that, when it comes to sex, teens want to know what you think.

Teens consistently say that parents — not peers, not partners, not pop culture — most influence their decisions about sex.

"When it comes to your child's decisions about sex and birth control, you are far more influential than you think," says Albert. "Teens consistently say that parents — not peers, not partners, not pop culture — most influence their decisions about sex."

It is possible to provide your daughter with information about contraception while also discouraging her from having sex. This is not a mixed message. In fact, says Albert, "Teens say this message is quite clear." So start talking!

More on teen health

Give teens access to condoms
When teens should visit the OB/GYN
How to talk to your teen about sex

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