Birth Control Pill Use Increased

"Hey Mom, can I take the car?  Do you have an extra $10 you can loan me?"  These are typical questions you might here from your teen, right?  What's not typical is for them to also ask, "Oh, and by the way, can I have sex tonight?"

The truth is that  teens are making their own decisions about when to have sex that are much less about what you think and more about what they think.  And we know from study after study, after study that  teens don't wait to have sex until after they start to use contraception.  They usually start having sex and then think about contraception.  

So for those of you who might be worried that getting a teen vaccinated against HPV and cervical cancer and helping them get on contraception does NOT encourage sexual activity. What it does encourage is an open dialogue about how to make the safest choices and what is best for them.

Teens do look to their parents and other trusted adults for wisdom and guidance, they're not looking for you to tell them what to do, but to help them feel comfortable making decisions.  Yes sometimes, teens defer decisions, and they let "Life Happen to Them."  Our job as adults is to prepare them for likely scenarios, talk to them about the "What If's?" and give them an opportunity to think beyond the immediate hormonally driven thoughts and actions to how those actions could impact their lives.

I ask my patients "What If" questions all the time. Here are a few that might help you with a teen you know:

  • What if your boyfriend/girlfriend asks you to do something you're not ready for?
  • What would it be like if you had sex with someone and they broke up with you within a week?
  • When do you think a person is ready for sex?
  • What would you do if you became pregnant or your girlfriend became pregnant?
  • What would it be like to have a Sexually Transmitted Infection?

As birth control use increases in Teens, we also see a decline in the rate of accidental and unintended pregnancies.  This is a good trend.  It means that more teens are acting responsibly and are considering their future.

Yes, increased use of contraception absolutely helps prevent accidental pregnancies.  Wondering what it's like to tell a teen that they're pregnant?

Follow me on Twitter@NurseBarbDehn.


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