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As a teen, what do I need to know about birth control?

Ellen Rome, MD
Pediatrics
There are many types of birth control pills and with different effects. In this video, Dr. Oz and Dr. Rome offer guidelines on the right dosage of birth control pills for teen girls.
Tyler S. Carroll, MD
Family Medicine
As a teenager you have several options for birth control but some options are less recommended for you. Birth control pills, the vaginal ring, hormone shots, and male condoms are the most common used birth control methods for teens that decide to be sexually active. Obviously, choosing not to have sex is a good option to avoid pregnancy and STDs.

You can get pregnant easiest with condom use but condoms are the only method to protect against STDs. Pills, vaginal rings and shots result in 1-2 pregnancies out of 100 women using that method per year. Intrauterine devices are more effective options to keep from getting pregnant but are usually not the first option for teens as they are harder to place in women who have not delivered a baby and IUDs are riskier in women who have multiple partners over few years.

Skin patches are still available but are more likely to cause clots then pills or vaginal rings. Cervical caps, diaphragms and female condoms are options but are far less common due to inconvenience and high failure rates.
If you choose to be sexually active as a teen it is probably best to select an option you are comfortable with (such as pills, vaginal rings, shots, or IUDs) and, in addition, use condoms to prevent STDs.
Teen males and females should be aware of the different methods of birth control that are available to them. These methods include condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, patches, NuvaRing or hormone shots. All of these birth control methods have risks and benefits that should be discussed with your physician. One important thing to be aware of is that most of these methods do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health
Birth control prevents pregnancy. Some methods are very highly effective at preventing pregnancy while others have a bigger risk of failure. In general, the less there is for you to remember or do everyday or even every time you have sex, the better a method works.
The most effective method that still allows a woman to later become pregnant when she is ready is the Intrauterine Device or IUD. Other very effective methods that require more regular attention from you are the hormone containing vaginal ring and daily birth control pills. These methods require you to see a health care provider. The least effective method is having your partner pull out before he has an orgasm or "cums." This latter method has a one if four chance of getting pregnant during a year of use.
It is important to take a pill everyday. If you have forgotten a pill, take it as soon as you realize you have forgotten it. You must also use a back up method of contraception such as condoms or stop having sex until you have once again taken 7 pills for 7 days in a row.
The only birth control method that also protects you from sexually transmitted infections is condoms. Of course, condoms can be used along with the more effective pills, rings, patches, or IUDs to prevent sexually transmitted infections.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.