Talking to your kids about sex can be daunting, no matter how close you are. But discussing issues like abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and birth control can help lower teens' risk of an unintended pregnancy or contracting an STD.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports sex education that includes information about both abstinence and birth control. Research has shown that this information doesn't increase kids' level of sexual activity, but actually promotes and increases the proper use of birth control methods among sexually active teens.
How and when you discuss sex and birth control is up to you. Providing the facts is vital, but it's also wise to tell your kids where you stand. Remember, by approaching these issues like any other health topics, not as something dirty or embarrassing, you increase the odds that your kids will feel comfortable coming to you with any questions and problems. As awkward as it might feel, answer questions honestly. And if you don't know the answers, it's OK to say so, then find out and report back.
If you have questions about how to talk with your son or daughter about sex, consider consulting your doctor. Lots of parents find this tough to tackle, and a doctor may offer some helpful perspective.
The birth control shot is a long-acting form of progesterone, a hormone that is naturally manufactured in the ovaries. The shot is given as an injection in the upper arm or in the buttocks once every 3 months to protect a female from becoming pregnant.
The hormone progesterone in the birth control shot primarily works by preventing ovulation (the release of an egg during the monthly cycle). If a female doesn't ovulate, she cannot get pregnant because there is no egg to be fertilized.
The birth control shot is a very effective method of birth control. Over the course of a year, fewer than 3 out of 100 typical couples who use the birth control shot every 3 months will have an accidental pregnancy. The chance of getting pregnant increases if a girl waits longer than 3 months to receive her next shot.
In general, how well each type of birth control method works depends on a lot of things. These include whether a person has any health conditions or is taking any medications that might interfere with its use. It also depends on whether the method chosen is convenient and whether the person remembers to use it correctly all of the time.
The birth control shot does not protect against STDs. In fact some studies show that the birth control shot may possibly increase the risk of getting certain STDs, although scientists do not understand why.
Couples having sex must always use condoms along with the shot to protect against STDs.
Abstinence (not having sex) is the only method that always prevents pregnancy and STDs.
Many women who receive the birth control shot will notice a change in their periods. The other side effects that some women have include:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a safety warning with regard to the use of the long-acting progesterone shot. Studies link this shot to a loss of bone density in women, although bone density may recover when a woman is no longer getting the shot.
Doctors are not sure how this type of shot may affect the bone density of adolescent girls in the future, though. Young women who are considering the shot as a method of birth control should talk to their doctors about it and make sure that they get enough calcium each day. Women who smoke should be sure to let their doctors know because smoking may be connected to this bone density loss.
Women may notice a decrease in fertility for up to a year after they stop getting the birth control shot. However, the shot does not cause permanent loss of fertility and most women can get pregnant once they stop getting the shot.
Young women who have difficulty remembering to take birth control pills and who want extremely good protection against pregnancy use the birth control shot. Also, nursing mothers can use the birth control shot.
Not all young women can — or should — use the birth control shot. Certain medical conditions make the use of the shot less effective or more risky. For example, it is not recommended for women who have had blood clots, certain types of cancers, or certain types of migraine headaches. Young women who have had unexplained vaginal bleeding (bleeding that is not during their periods) or who suspect they may be pregnant should talk to their doctors.
The shot must be prescribed and is given every 3 months in a doctor's office.
Each injection (3 months' worth of birth control) costs about $60. Many health insurance plans cover the cost of birth control shots, as well as the cost of the doctor's visit. Family planning clinics (such as Planned Parenthood) may charge less.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013
|Planned Parenthood Info for Teens This site from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has information on relationships and sexual health for teens.|
|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.|
|American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) This site offers information on numerous health issues. The women's health section includes readings on pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum care, breast health, menopause, contraception, and more.|
|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.|
|About Birth Control: What Parents Need to Know Talking to your kids about sex can be daunting. But discussing issues like abstinence, STDs, and birth control can help lower teens' risk of unintended pregnancy or contracting an STD.|
|Birth Control Methods: How Well Do They Work? Some birth control methods work better than others. This chart compares how well different birth control methods work.|
|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.|
|Birth Control Shot Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article about the birth control shot and find out how it works - and how well.|
|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).|
|Should Girls Who Aren't Sexually Active Be Vaccinated Against HPV? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|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.|
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