Best And Most Useful Birth Control Tips For Teenagers
Let’s face it: teenagers are engaging in sex without the benefit of marriage. Not talking about it, and avoiding public discussions only serves to push under wraps the risks involved in engaging in unsafe sex. It doesn’t prevent the teenagers from indulging in risky behaviour. It’s better to educate them on the dangers of teen pregnancies, and the best ways to prevent them. Even teenage couples who are married should be taught to have safe sex, rather than risk teenage pregnancy.
THE WISEST ACTION would be to sit down with your adolescent child/children and talk to them about the changes in their bodies. Educating them on the various aspects of how it is as much their hormones which play a critical role in sexual arousal as other factors will eliminate any feelings of guilt surrounding such desires. However, it is critical that you simultaneously educate them on what is responsible behaviour, how they can’t shirk responsibility for their actions by claiming it was the hormones, and — most importantly — the value of abstinence.
THE SAFEST OPTION
There is a story of a young couple going to a doctor to discuss various contraceptive options as they didn’t want to start a family immediately. He suggested various options, but none of them was 100% safe. Finally, he said, “Eat an apple.” They asked eagerly, “Before or after?” “Instead of,” was the medic’s reply. The only thing which will protect against unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is abstinence. Since that may not be an acceptable option for most people desirous of taking their relationship a notch closer, let’s consider the options.
USE CONDOMS TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR PARTNER
STDs have long-term effects on the infected people, and might even pose challenges for the patient’s reproductive health in later years. People of almost every age are at risk of contracting STD and AIDS, even when they are not of childbearing age. Teenagers are at higher risk as many have multiple partners — sometimes simultaneously. So, using condoms protects both. There are male and female condoms which don’t require a prescription. Don’t use both. Let either partner decide who is going to use one, and then carry on to enjoy safe sex.
THE FEMALE CONDOM is usually called a diaphragm. Whichever you choose, discard immediately after use. There is always a seven per cent chance of either kind of condom not being effective in preventing a pregnancy but is preferable to some of the invasive contraceptive methods used.
The intrauterine devices (IUDs), namely the copper T and the Levonorgestrel IUD, have their own challenges. While the copper T is placed inside the uterus to prevent the release of eggs, it needs to be replaced every ten years. It can cause menstrual cramping to be fairly severe initially with heavy bleeding. The Levonorgestrel IUD releases hormones causing irregular bleeding and needs to be replaced every three years. Neither will protect you against STD or AIDS. There is the vaginal ring which needs to be removed after three weeks for your menstrual week, and a new one placed immediately after your period.
HORMONAL IMPLANTS AND INJECTIONS
A preferred option for many teenagers is the hormonal implant in the form of a patch placed on the upper arm usually. It contains progestin, a hormone that prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. However, it doesn’t protect it you from STD and might cause irregular bleeding, headaches, weight gain and — the teenager’s nightmare — acne. It needs to be replaced after three years. There is another contraceptive patch which needs to be replaced weekly. It is neither convenient nor effective in protecting you against STD. Both kinds need to be placed by a qualified doctor.
INJECTIONS: Closely allied to it is the progesterone hormone injection which is effective for three months. Apart from causing blood clots, remember it could take a year or two before regaining fertility after the stoppage. However, the major advantages are that it protects you from endometrial cancer, helps you regain correct iron levels if you are anaemic, and ensures you have a lighter period with less cramping.
THE PILL: For many women of all age groups around the world — any female capable of conceiving a child — the contraceptive pill has been the go-to option for birth control. The combination pill contains estrogen and progesterone; while there is the progestin-only tablet. Whichever contraceptive pill you opt for, you must have it at the same time daily — that requires discipline; something that teenagers are not famous for.
EMERGENCY PILLS: These are for those instances when a girl might have had unprotected sex, or been raped, but wants to avoid getting pregnant. She must take it within 72 hours for it to be effective.
Help the adolescents to have more responsible sexual behaviour, and guide them the importance of having safe sex. You should also guide them on their options. If in doubt, reach out to the doctors at the Asian Institute of Medicine and Science (AIMS).