While over 273,000 infants were still born in 2013 to teens between 15 and 19 years old, more teens are actually using birth control.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 90 percent of teens who are sexually active used some form of birth control the last time they were intimate. Birth control pills and condoms are still the preferred options among teens, but the agency warned that these become less effective in preventing pregnancy when used incorrectly and inconsistently.
Recognizing the need for more effective birth control in teens, the CDC's Vital Signs report, a part of the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, showed that improving access to Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) may be one way cases of teen pregnancy may be reduced. Examples of LARC include implants and intrauterine devices.
"Health care professionals have a powerful role to play in reducing teen pregnancy," said Ileana Arias, Ph.D., principal deputy director for the CDC, citing the chance they have to encourage teens to avoid sex as well as discuss using implants and IUDs as contraceptive options.
LARC is actually the best kind of contraception for teens, but many don't even realize the option is available to them. Aside from knowing very little about what LARC has to offer, others don't consider the birth control method because they think they can't use it because of their age. Some are also put-off by the high upfront costs of getting LARC, while sometimes, health care providers themselves don't offer the option to teens; they too have misplaced concerns about it or are not knowledgeable enough to provide insertion and removal.
In those who sought out LARC use, more opted for implants instead of IUDs.
The Office of Population Affairs and the CDC analyzed LARC use in teens between the ages of 15 and 19 from 2005 to 2013 using information from the Title X National Family Planning program, a federal grant program promoting confidential family planning and the application of related services to prevent pregnancy in teens and low-income individuals.
"This program also applies the latest clinical guidelines on long-acting reversible contraception and other forms of birth control," explained Susan Moskosky, OPA acting director, alongside offering training to health care providers and providing low to no-cost birth control options.
May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.
Photo: Beatrice Murch | Flickr