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 child's doctor. Lots of parents find this tough to tackle, and a doctor may offer some helpful perspective.
The intrauterine device (IUD) is a piece of T-shaped plastic, about the size of a quarter, that is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Two types of IUDs are available: one is covered with copper, the other releases the hormone progesterone.
The copper-coated IUD primarily prevents pregnancy by not allowing the sperm to fertilize the egg. It may also make it harder for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus. When an IUD is coated with progesterone, it works in a similar way, but also thickens the cervical mucus and thins the uterine lining. In some cases, it stops ovulation (the release of an egg during the monthly cycle). This prevents sperm from fertilizing the egg and implanting.
One type of progesterone IUD also can be used to help reduce blood flow for girls who have heavy, painful periods (dysmenorrhea).
Both types of IUDs are very effective at preventing pregnancy. Over the course of a year, fewer than 1 out of 100 typical couples using an IUD will have an accidental pregnancy.
The IUD is effective from the time it is put in and it lasts a long time. A copper IUD can stay in place for up to 10 years. Progesterone IUDs can stay in place for 3 to 5 years, depending on the brand. This makes the IUD a good option for women who are not ready to start a family. Even though an IUD can stay in place for a long time, a gynecologist or specialized nurse practitioner can remove it at any time.
The IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Couples who are having sex must always use condoms along with the IUD to protect against STDs.
A doctor or nurse practitioner will check to be sure a girl doesn't have any STDs before putting in an IUD. If a girl gets an IUD put in at the same time she has an infection, it could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Abstinence (not having sex) is the only method that always prevents pregnancy and STDs.
The most common side effects of the IUD include:
Rare problems include:
IUDs are a good birth control option for almost every female. However, IUDs aren't recommended if:
Experts now recommend IUDs as a good birth control option for younger women and teens because they last for many years, require no daily maintenance, and are very effective at preventing pregnancy. A newer type of IUD is smaller and uses a lower dose of progesterone, which may make it a better option for females who have never had a baby.
An IUD must be inserted by a doctor or nurse practitioner. It is often easiest to put an IUD in during a girl's period, but it can be inserted anytime during a girl's cycle as long as she is not pregnant.
Copper IUDs need to be replaced every 10 years, and progesterone IUDs should be replaced every 3-5 years, depending on the brand.
An IUD costs about $500 to $1,000. That doesn't include the cost of having a doctor or nurse practitioner insert and remove it, as well as follow-up visits — these things cost extra. Many health insurance plans cover the costs, and family planning clinics (such as Planned Parenthood) may charge less.
Reviewed by: Julia Lancaster, RN, and Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 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.|
|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.|
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|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.|
|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.|
|IUD Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Learn more about the IUD and to find out how well it works for teens.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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).|
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