In the United States, 80% or more of pregnancies among adolescents age 15 to 19 years are unintended.
National surveys report that ⅓ of high school students are sexually active and only ⅓ of those reported use effective contraception.
Barriers to Seeking Contraception
Potential barriers might include concerns about confidentiality or cost as well as misconceptions about the risk of getting pregnant. One additional barrier is a deficit in meeting with a health care provider who can help guide decision making about the best potential options for contraceptive needs.
Adolescents and teens may mistakenly believe they will be required to undress for an examination prior to receiving contraception. This evaluation is only necessary for intrauterine contraception or if the patient has a concern for a problem.
Misconceptions About Contraception
MYTH: Being on the pill or other hormonal contraception will cause me to gain weight.
FACT: Most hormonal contraceptives do not cause weight gain.
MYTH: Being on oral contraception causes infertility later in life.
FACT: hormonal contraception has not been found to cause infertility.
MYTH: Intrauterine devices are really for use by women who have already had kids; they’re not intended for teens.
FACT: Long term reversible methods such as the arm implant or intrauterine devices are safe and effective for adolescents.
Choosing a Contraceptive Method
Individual patient factors and preferences will always play a role in this decision making, which is shared between the patient and her provider. Aside from safety, other factors considered include:
- Convenience or ease of use
- Side effects
During a visit in the office with her provider, options are typically presented and discussed in terms of relative effectiveness.
Common Types of Contraception
- Long-acting reversible methods (LARC):
- Intrauterine devices (progestin or copper IUD)
- Contraceptive implant (Nexplanon)
- Depo Provera injection
- Pill, patch or ring
- Diaphragm, cap or sponge
- Fertility awareness-based methods
Stay tuned for more information on specific information about the contraceptive choices for teens! Schedule an appointment with a provider today to discuss options.
About Elizabeth Jarvis, MD
Dr. Elizabeth Jarvis is an OB-GYN with WakeMed Physician Practices – OB-GYN. Her clinical interests include fertility, abnormal uterine bleeding, minimally invasive and robotic-assisted surgery, family planning and contraception, high risk and routine obstetrics care.