How to Avoid a Teenage Pregnancy

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Being a teenager can be pretty tough. You're experiencing a lot of changes and figuring out who you want to be. A baby can make the teen years even more complicated. Chances are, you'd like to wait until you are an independent adult to become a parent. By practicing safe sex, being informed, and having a good support system, you can avoid becoming a teen parent. Knowing the facts about safe sex is the most important thing you can do for yourself. If you're an adult, you can also take steps to help the teen in your life avoid becoming pregnant.

Birth Control

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    Use condoms for reliable, inexpensive birth control. If you're having heterosexual sex, condoms are one of the easiest to use birth control options. Remove the condom from the wrapper and roll the condom onto the erect penis. Make sure that the rim of the condom is on the outside, so that it will roll on more easily. Condoms last a long time, but they do expire. Check the date before using one.[1]
    • You can buy condoms at any drugstore, and you can also get them for free at many schools and health centers.
    • You and your partner should both be comfortable putting on the condom.
    • Try the female condom. These condoms go inside the vagina and are used to prevent pregnancy. Follow the directions on the package.
    • Both male and female condoms also protect you from STIs (also known as STDs).
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    Go on the pill for effective birth control. Oral contraceptives are commonly known as the "pill." You'll need a prescription from your doctor for this method. The hormones in this pill prevent ovulation, which means that there will be no egg for the sperm to fertilize. The pill is 91% effective at preventing pregnancy, but it does not protect against STIs.[2]
    • Talk to your doctor about possible side effects, such as weight gain or spotting and bleeding between periods. You might also suffer from mood swings or depression.
    • The pill is most effective when taken at the same time each day. Set a reminder on your phone to help you remember to take the pill.
    • You have to take the pill daily because it is out of your system after a day.[3]
    • You do not need a post-pill washout or anything like that. Once done, your period should come.[4]
    • If your periods are irregular after stopping the pill, see a doctor and get your fertility levels checked.[5]
    • Costs will depend on your insurance. The bill can be free, but can also cost up to $50 per month.
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    Try an IUD for long-lasting birth control. An IUD is a small device that is implanted in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. At 99%, the IUD is one of the most effective forms of birth control. A medical professional will insert the IUD. While it can be removed at any time, it can remain in the uterus and be effective for up to twelve years.[6]
    • There are two different kinds of IUDs: copper and hormonal. Ask your doctor about which one is right for you.
    • One of the great things about copper IUDs is that they can be used as emergency contraception. If you have one inserted within five days after having intercourse, it can prevent pregnancy.
    • Side effects can include cramping and irregular periods. These usually go away after three to six months.
    • It can be free, but could cost up to $1,000. Costs of birth control depend on your individual provider and your insurance plan.
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    Consider an implant for worry-free birth control. There are several other kinds of hormonal birth control. One option is an implant, which a medical professional will place in your upper arm. It is a small rod that will protect you from pregnancy for up to four years.[7] .
    • The implant is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but it doesn't protect against STIs.
    • The implant is great because you can't misuse it. You can't forget to take it or use it incorrectly!
    • The implant can cost between $0 and $850. Talk to your provider about costs.
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    Try the patch for easy to use birth control. You can also ask your doctor about the transdermal patch. You wear the small patch on your upper arm, stomach, back, or butt, and you put a new one on each week. Every three weeks, you take a week off from wearing it, then replace it with a new patch.[8]
    • The patch is 91% effective, but it does not protect against STIs.
    • Your prescription could cost between $0 and $80 a month.
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    Get the shot if you don't want to worry about birth control every day. If you don't want to remember to change your patch or take a pill, the shot might be a good option. Every three months, your doctor will give you a shot that will prevent ovulation so that you will not get pregnant. [9]
    • The shot is 94% effective, but it does not protect against STIs.
    • It will cost between $0 and $100 each time you visit your doctor for the shot.
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    Learn about Plan B for emergency contraception. You can also prevent pregnancy with emergency contraception. Plan B One Step is a pill that can be taken to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex. If you're over 15, you can purchase this over the counter at most drug stores. You will need to show ID, such as your driver's license, as proof of age.[10]
    • This is not intended to be a regular birth control method. You should still choose another method of birth control to use on a regular basis.
    • It usually costs between $40 and $50.
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    Consider abstinence for the most effective method. The best way to prevent pregnancy is to not have sex. Abstinence means abstaining from intercourse. Some people feel that being abstinent also includes not engaging in oral sex, but be aware that oral sex does not lead to pregnancy. Not having any type of sex will also protect you from STIs.[11]

Getting Informed

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    Visit your doctor. In addition to using birth control, you can help avoid a teen pregnancy by learning as much as you can about safe sex. Your doctor is a great place to start gathering information. If you are considering starting a sexual relationship, ask your doctor about the best birth control method for you and your partner.[12]
    • Ask questions such as, "What do you recommend as the best method to prevent pregnancy?" and "How can I keep from getting an STI?"
    • Be completely honest with your doctor about your sexual history. They won't judge you.
    • Females might want to visit an OB/GYN for a more specialized consultation.
    • Your doctor will be able to recommend a birth control method, but ultimately the decision is up to you.[13]
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    Know the myths. There are many myths about sex that you might have heard. Educate yourself so that you know what is true and what's not. If you've heard some myths, ask your doctor whether or not they are true.[14]
    • Some common myths include the idea that a someone can't get pregnant if they are having their period or if it is their first time having intercourse. These are not true.
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    Read reliable sources. Get your information from credible organizations such as Planned Parenthood or the health center at your school or workplace. You can tell if information is reliable if it uses sources (such as doctors or medical journals) and is written by a professional, such as a doctor or nurse.
    • Visit your local or school library. The librarian can direct you towards some good sources on safe sex.
    • You could also track down books like: Safe Sex 101: An Overview for Teens by Margaret O'Hyde or Sex: A Book for Teens: An Uncensored Guide to Your Body, Sex, and Safety by Nikol Hasler.
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    Communicate with your partner. If you are having sex or thinking about it, make sure that you and your partner are practicing healthy communication. Talk to one another about what type of birth control you'll use and what you would do if a pregnancy did occur. Make sure you are open and honest with one another. Don't be afraid to voice any concerns you might have.
    • You could say something like, "We've been talking a lot about having sex. I wanted to know how you would react if I accidentally became pregnant."
    • Remember, it is your choice how to use your body. Don't let someone pressure you into having sex.

Helping Your Teen Avoid Pregnancy

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    Examine your own values and attitudes about sex. Don't avoid the subject. Before you have the talk, take some time to think about where you stand on the issues. For example, ask yourself if you are comfortable with teens having sex. If not, think about how you will encourage abstinence. You can also think about whether or not you believe in birth control for teens.[15]
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    Encourage open communication. Let your teen know that you are happy to talk to them about sex. In fact, you can even initiate a conversation. You could say something like, "Lauren, since you're heading to college, I wanted to talk about ways to practice safe sex. Is now a good time?" You want your teen to know that they can come to you for help and support.[16]
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    Answer questions honestly. In order for communication to work, you need to be honest. That doesn't mean that you have to reveal your entire sexual history to your teen. It just means that you should be prepared to answer questions like, "Did you wait until you were married to have sex?" If you're honest, you're providing your teen with helpful information that can help them make good choices.[17]
    • Your teen might also ask things like, "What should I do if I'm feeling pressured to have sex?" or "Can I get pregnant from oral sex?"
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    Emphasize education. Your teen might not feel comfortable talking to you about sex. That's normal! Just make sure that you encourage them to get educated about safe sex. If there is an optional sex ed class at their school, encourage them to sign up. If their school doesn't offer that, check with your local community center or hospital. They might have some community classes.[18]
    • You might also need some more information yourself. You want to be informed when you answer questions. Check out Planned Parenthood's site, or ask your doctor for some current literature. And don't hesitate to head to the local library!
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    Monitor your teen's relationships. Make a point to know who is in your teen's life. If they are dating, ask them to introduce you to their partner. You can also ask your teen questions like, "You and Katie seem to be getting serious. Have you two talked about sex?" If you have any concerns about the relationship, talk to the teen about them.[19]
    • Try not to be judgmental. You don't want your teen to feel embarrassed to talk to you. For example, don't say, "Oh, you're not really in love. You're just a kid!"
    • Share concerns instead of judgments. Say, "It worries me that Tom seems a little controlling. How do you feel?" instead of "I hate Tom."

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