Q: What is the best birth control for teens?
A significant number of teenage girls—44 percent—are sexually active, making it critical that they are able to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Choosing a pregnancy prevention method is a very personal decision, no matter a woman’s age. I recommend that teens make an appointment with a midwife, who can help discuss their options and figure out the best one for them. Hormonal and non-hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), the implant, pills, the shot, the ring, the patch, condoms, diaphragms, and fertility awareness methods are all available to teens.
Some of the most effective forms of birth control on the market today are IUDs (Mirena, Paragard, etc.) and the implant (Nexplanon), which last between three and 10 years. Many teens like these methods because they don’t have to remember to take a pill at the same time every day and they are more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. A recent study showed that teens who choose long-acting reversible contraceptives like IUDs and the implant are happy with their choice and continue to use their method of pregnancy prevention over the long term.
Condoms should be used with any other form of birth control to protect against sexually transmitted infections and as an additional protection against pregnancy.
In Washington state, access to birth control for teens is confidential. We encourage open communication with family, but teens do not need to have permission to make an appointment or receive birth control.
—Allison Lawrence, CNM at Vancouver Clinic
Allison Lawrence holds a master of science in nursing with a special focus in midwifery and women’s health from Yale University.