One of the toughest decisions that a lot of teens face is whether to have sex. Teens who decide to become sexually active must also take responsibility to stay protected from unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
In the United States, the teenage pregnancy rate is higher than in many other countries. Approximately 750,000 teen girls become pregnant every year and most of them don't intend to. In addition to preventing unplanned pregnancies, sexually active teens must protect themselves from STDs — which means that condoms must be used every time.
The most effective method of birth control is abstinence. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has said that sex education that includes information about both abstinence and birth control is the most effective way to keep down the rate of teen pregnancy.
As a parent, you play a key role in this education. It's important that your kids feel, from a young age, that they can come to you with a question about sexuality, no matter what it is. It helps if you treat sexuality as a natural part of development, not something dirty or embarrassing.
Providing the facts is vital, but it's also wise to give your kids a sense of where you stand. Teens, especially, may seem uninterested in your views on sex and birth control, or even your values in general, but they usually take in more than you think.
At times, kids may not feel comfortable approaching parents with questions about sexuality. That's OK. But it's important that they have a trusted adult — like a teacher, school counselor, school nurse, or doctor — to talk with about birth control and other issues related to sex.
Couples who do choose to have sex have many effective birth control methods to choose from. Check out the articles below to learn important facts about these different options. You may be surprised — some popular ones aren't as effective as many people think:
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy This site provides teen pregnancy facts, resources, and prevention tips.|
|Planned Parenthood Federation of America Planned Parenthood offers information on sexually transmitted diseases, birth control methods, and other issues of sexual health.|
|Sexual Development Changes become more dramatic and complex with the onset of puberty, and kids are likely to have lots of questions. These articles can help you become a trusted source of information, comfort, and support for your kids.|
|Irregular Periods Wondering whether it's normal to have irregular periods? Get the facts about this common problem.|
|STDs In many ways teens today are growing up faster than ever. That's why it's important to talk to your child about sex, particularly sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).|
|Questions and Answers About Sex Answering kids' questions about sex is a responsibility many parents dread. But by answering these questions honestly, parents can help foster healthy feelings about sex.|
|Do You Need a Pelvic Exam to Get Birth Control? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|When Should My Daughter First Go to the Gynecologist? Find out what the experts say.|
|Should Girls Who Aren't Sexually Active Be Vaccinated Against HPV? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Abstinence Abstinence is the only form of birth control that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Abstinence also protects people against STDs.|
|About Birth Control Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to get the basics on birth control.|
|Gyn Checkups Girls should get their first gynecological checkup between ages 13 and 15. Find out what happens during a yearly gyn visit -- and why most girls don't get internal exams.|
|Virginity: A Very Personal Decision Deciding whether it's right for you to have sex is one of the most important decisions you'll ever have to make. Each person must use his or her own judgment and decide if it's the right time - and the right person.|
|Your Daughter's First Gynecology Visit The idea of going to the gynecologist may make your daughter feel nervous. Here's how to make her feel more comfortable.|
|About Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.|
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