One of the biggest decisions that many teens face is whether to have sex. Teens who decide to become sexually active need to learn how to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
In the United States, the teenage pregnancy rate is higher than in many other countries. About 250,000 teen girls give birth every year and most of them never intended to become pregnant. Sexually active teens also must protect themselves from STDs — which means that condoms must be used every time.
Sex education that includes information about both abstinence (not having sex or any intimate sexual contact) and birth control is the most effective way to lower the rate of teen pregnancy. How effective? The rate of births to teen girls ages 15–19 has steadily declined over the years. This is linked to teens waiting longer to have sex and more teens using birth control to prevent pregnancy.
As a parent, it's important that your kids feel that they can come to you with a question about sexuality, no matter what it is. It helps if you treat it as a natural part of development, not something dirty or embarrassing.
At times, kids may not feel comfortable asking parents about sex. 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.
Birth Control Methods
Teens 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: