Birth Control (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Teens and Birth Control
Whether you are male or female, your life can suddenly be changed forever by pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Think for a moment what this would be like for you.
The most dependable way to prevent pregnancy and STD infection is not to have sexual intercourse. This is called abstinence.
If you do not choose abstinence and are sexually active, always be prepared. To protect yourself and your future, think ahead about birth control methods and STD protection. Never have sex without protection. Using condoms will reduce your risk of getting an STD.
Even a single act of sexual intercourse can lead to pregnancy or an STD infection.
Take charge of your health and your future
Even if you plan not to have sex until you're older, take a little time to learn and decide about:
It may not be easy to talk about sexual activity and birth control, but it is important that you know how to practice safe sex. Hopefully, you have a parent, school or church counselor, or health professional that you feel comfortable talking to. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood are private, confidential resources for learning how to be both sexual and responsible. See the Planned Parenthood Web site for teens at www.teenwire.com, or check your telephone listings for the Planned Parenthood office near you.
The best birth control methods for you are those that are easy for you to use (or are already in effect) each time you have intercourse. Follow up regularly with a health professional to make sure that your birth control method is working effectively for you. And if you have any side effects that are making it hard for you to use the method as directed, choose a different method.
If you have a long-term (chronic) illness or a disability, talk to a health professional about which birth control choices are best for you.
For teen boys and girls
Protect yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
For teen girls
Some teenage girls are worried about visiting a health professional for birth control.
Before choosing and using a birth control method, be honest with yourself. If it failed and you started a pregnancy, what would you do? Are you ready to raise a child? Is an abortion an acceptable option for you? Answering these questions can help you know how committed you are to preventing a pregnancy. For most sexually active teens, it is worth it to use the most effective birth control methods possible.
When choosing a birth control method, also consider protecting yourself against sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms give the most effective STD protection for both partners, no matter what other birth control method you are using. Some studies suggest that female condoms are as effective as male condoms in preventing STDs.1 But as birth control, condoms used alone are not highly dependable.
Emergency contraception can be used if you have had unprotected sex or you think your birth control method may have failed. The pills can prevent a pregnancy when taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex, although they are most effective when used within 72 hours. A copper IUD is sometimes used as emergency contraception and can prevent pregnancy if it is inserted within 5 to 7 days after you have had unprotected sex.
If you have had unprotected sexual intercourse or you think your birth control method may have failed, emergency contraception is a backup to prevent a pregnancy.
It's a good idea to have emergency contraception on hand or a prescription for emergency contraception in case you ever need it. Talk to your health professional or a family planning clinic about this.
If you do use emergency contraception, be sure to follow up with your health professional to find an effective, ongoing method of birth control.
For more information, see the Emergency Contraception Web site at http://ec.princeton.edu/.
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