Teen pregnancy rates in
the United States have decreased, but they
are still too high. Every day, over a
thousand babies are born to teen mothers. Having a child can have
a huge impact on a young person’s life
and aspirations. Half of teen mothers don’t
graduate from high school and babies born to teens
face increased medical risks. Most teen pregnancies
happen because of sexual partners not using
contraceptives at all or not using them properly
or consistently. As a health care
professional, you are critical to reducing teen
pregnancy rates by encouraging adolescents
having sex to improve their use of contraceptives. Talk with your teen
patients about whether they’re having sex. Educate those teens about
all the contraceptive options available. Help them select the
method they will more likely use the right
way and every time. Let teens having sex know
they are welcome to use any method of birth
control. There are no restrictions
on any method based solely on a teen’s age. Like my girlfriend, some
teens may feel more comfortable using
long-acting, reversible contraception
such as IUDs or implants. If a teen has had a
pregnancy and continues to have sex, make sure she
knows the benefits of long-acting, reversible
birth control as one option. Most teens who are
sexually active use condoms, and that’s really good for
preventing STDs, HIV and pregnancy. But, since condoms often
are not used the right way and every time, they may not
provide complete protection. That’s a big problem. Make sure your teenage
patients who are having sex understand ‘dual
protection’: using both a condom and a hormonal
method of birth control to prevent pregnancy and
sexually transmitted diseases such as H-I-V. As a health care provider,
you can help improve the lives of all young people by
giving them the information and tools they need to make
healthy decisions. So talk to us about
pregnancy and contraception. We’ll listen.