When your teenager comes up to you asking: “When should I start birth control?“, it’s normal to feel a little intimidated. But having this conversation with your teen is so important because it can help keep her safer if she becomes sexually active.
Besides, there are other possible benefits for your teen when it comes to birth control, beyond preventing an unwanted pregnancy. Keep reading to learn more!
What is the average age to start birth control?
Most girls start using birth control around age 16. By this age, they’ve likely started their menstrual cycle—which means that if they become sexually active, they’re at risk of becoming pregnant.
In fact, research suggests that women who are at the highest risk of unintended pregnancy are between the ages of 15 and 19.
What are the reasons to start birth control?
Not all teenagers will become sexually active, but many do. Starting birth control is the best way to prevent unintended pregnancies among sexually active teens. Certain types of birth control, including male and female condoms, are also important because they can prevent sexually transmitted infections.
But here’s the thing …
There are other birth control considerations to be made between you and your teen.
For instance, some girls (along with their parents and/or doctor) decide to go on birth control to control acne, manage symptoms of health conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, or to improve the regularity of their periods.
What is the best birth control for teens?
Here are some of the top birth control methods for teens:
IUD OR IMPLANT
With implants or IUDs, your teen doesn’t have to remember to take a pill at the same time every day, which can be a lot easier for her busy life! IUDs and implants are 99% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies.
Oral contraceptives can be a great choice for teen girls experiencing painful and heavy periods or excessive acne. Some birth control pills also give your teen the freedom of making her periods optional or help her manage health conditions like PCOS.
The science says women under 30 should choose birth control pills containing at least 30 micrograms of estrogen, since estrogen plays a key role in bone health.
Condoms help prevent unwanted pregnancy AND they’re one of the best ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections. No matter what type of birth control your teen uses, you should encourage him or her to use condoms, too.
What are the side effects for teenagers on birth control?
Side effects of hormonal birth control (e.g., tender breasts, spotting and nausea) are usually mild and tend to go away after a few months—which is true for teens and adults.
Since teenagers tend to be more prone to acne, some girls find that avoiding progestin-only pills is better for their skin. That said, many forms of birth control can improve skin quality and provide other beneficial effects.
Be sure to talk to your doctor if you and your teen daughter need help selecting the best birth control option for her.
Why is birth control important, even for teenagers?
Here’s the reality:
A little over half of all male and female teenagers have had sex by the time turn 18, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So, empowering teenagers with birth control matters because it can help prevent teen pregnancy.
The social and economic consequences of teen pregnancy are significant. Teen girls who become pregnant and give birth are far more likely to drop out of school. It’s also been found that kids born to teen mums are more likely to become teen parents themselves, face unemployment as adults, and are more likely to struggle with lower academic achievement, health problems and incarceration.
Thankfully, teen pregnancy rates have been declining recently. The CDC believes that the greater availability and use of birth control is a huge driver of this promising trend!
Talking about birth control for teens is an important conversation.
Be honest, avoid making assumptions, and let your teen know they are safe to ask questions and talk to you about their concerns and needs. Let them know they have several options to choose from and encourage them to practice safer sex techniques if they do become sexually active.