The Most Effective Birth Control Methods For Teens

Written by K. Masthoff • 
Image: Shutterstock

Table Of Content:

Teenage years are a very crucial stage in one’s life. This is an age of transformation, a time when teenagers begin to realize their individuality. An important aspect of their individual persona is their sexuality. As the teenagers begin to explore their sexual self, they enjoy the companionship of individuals from the opposite gender and gradually get exposed to intimacy and sex.

As exposure to information has increased considerably in the recent times, thanks to the growing access to internet to the teenagers, many are getting sexually active. While we keep aside the moral aspects and attempt to see the practicality of the issue, it is important that teenagers are aware of various birth control options they have. They may be curious to have sexual pleasure early in life, but will not be ready to take up the responsibilities of parenthood so soon. MomJunction explains various birth control measures that sexually active teenagers can practice.

Getting Sexually Active As A Teenager:

As a teenager, you may find it immensely gratifying to receive love and attention from someone of the opposite gender. Getting physically attracted to someone you admire is natural during this age. However, both boys and girls need to understand the importance of contraception and practicing safe sex.

There is a general misconception that contraception and safe sex are just about avoiding pregnancy. While it is true that a teenage pregnancy can lead to severe physical and emotional stress, unsafe sex can also lead to several sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can be extremely challenging to cope with in the years to come.

[ Read: STDs In Teens ]

Puberty And Teenage Contraception:

The first thing that you have to understand is that you attain puberty, your body is ready to conceive and reproduce. In girls, the starting of menstruation is a signal to her active reproductive system, which can now produce eggs for fertilization by the sperm.

Similarly, for a boy, the age of puberty is defined by a change in voice, growth of bodily hair, and a few other physical changes. When this happens, they start experiencing, what is known as, ‘wet dreams’. This is again the body’s signal that it is ready to produce sperm.

Sexual relations between teens who have reached puberty require contraception to avoid pregnancy and other complications.

The basic aim of contraception is to prevent pregnancy. Contraception keeps the egg and sperm apart, stops egg production, or prevents the fertilized egg from attaching to the lining of the uterus [1].

In the next section, you will read more about contraception options that are safe for you as well as the pros and cons of each of the method. It is best to consult your parents or doctor before choosing your preferred method of birth control.

Birth Control Options/ Methods For Teenagers:

Choosing the right contraception method is essential if you do not want any complication with your sexual or reproductive health when you grow older.

The fact is that sex and matters relating to it are still not discussed openly in most families, leaving children (teenagers) in a state of confusion regarding their sexuality and sexual well-being. Many parents find it a difficult matter to discuss at home and hence, contraception remains a taboo. If you are facing similar issues at home, a pediatrician can be a good source of information. You may feel more comfortable discussing with him than with your parents. The doctor will educate you about the right sexual behavior as well as various methods to prevent STDs. Your doctor will also help you by discussing various contraception methods and prescribe one that he believes is the most suitable for you [2].

Sexually active teenagers can follow some of these effective birth control measures:

1. Contraceptive Implant:

The thin contraceptive implant, placed inside the skin of the upper arm, generates progestin, a hormone that prevents ovaries from releasing eggs. As the flexible plastic piece is for hormone adjustment, it cannot protect you from STDs. Hence, condoms need to be used even after having the implant.


  • Safe long-term birth control option.
  • An effective birth control method without the need for daily, weekly or monthly routines.
  • You need to replace the implant after three years.


  • May cause irregular bleeding.
  • Weight gain, headache, and acne are other common side effects.

2. Intrauterine Device (IUD):

The tiny T-shaped device is placed inside the uterus. This is only a contraceptive, and does not protect you against STDs. Two types of IUD are available as options:

Levonorgestrel IUD: contains hormones and needs replacement every three to five years.

Copper-T: is hormone-free, and needs to be replaced after ten years.


  • It is a safe and effecient.
  • With the Levonorgestrel IUD, teens can have easy periods with lesser cramping and blood flow.


  • There might be some cramping and pain immediately after insertion.
  • The Levonorgestrel IUD may cause irregular bleeding and some spotting initially.
  • With Copper-T, you may experience increased menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding. But this would eventually subside.

[ Read: Teenage Pregnancy Statistics ]

3. Progestin Injection:

This is a progesterone hormone shot that stops ovaries from releasing eggs. The effects are temporary and last for just three months. It is not effective against STDs.


  • You need to take a shot every three months, and hence, it offers a relatively short-term contraceptive solution.
  • If you have an iron deficiency, the contraception helps you avoid anemia.It also prevents endometrial cancer.
  • You may have a lighter period and less menstrual cramping.


  • Weight gain.
  • May cause irregular bleeding and light spotting.
  • Once you discontinue the injection, it may take a couple of years for your fertility to restore.
  • Might cause blood clots.

4. Contraceptive Vaginal Ring:

Every month, the ring is placed in your vagina to prevent the release of eggs. The ring is put for three weeks and removed during your menstrual week. This method also does not provide protection against STDs.


  • Less menstrual cramps
  • Lighter periods
  • Your acne will improve too


  • Requires ring replacement every month and hence will necessitate a regular visit to the doctor.
  • It may cause tenderness in breasts, nausea and excess vaginal discharge.
  • Might cause blood clots.

5. Contraceptive Patch:

The contraceptive patch, place on your skin, supplies hormones to the body through skin. The hormones prevent release of eggs. In a given month, you need to replace the patch once a week for three weeks, and remove it during the week of your period. The patch doesn’t protect you from STDs.


  • Your menstrual cramps will not be severe.
  • Lighter periods.
  • You will notice your acne improving.


  • Since you need to replace the patch regularly, you have to visit your doctor every week.
  • The patch can be seen by others, if not hidden properly.
  • Might increase blood clots.
  • May cause skin irritation, nausea and tenderness in breasts.

6. Birth Control Pills:

Birth control pills are the most common contraception method that adolescent girls and young women use. The pill comes in two forms: the combination tablet containing estrogen and progesterone and the progestin-only pill. You need to take the pill daily, at almost the same time for it to prevent unwanted conception. However, the pill is ineffective against STDs.


  • Reduced menstrual cramps.
  • Lighter periods.
  • Improvement in acne.
  • Provides protection against endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, and iron deficiency.


  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Hypertension
  • Migraine attacks
  • You have to take it daily, and hence, it may not be the ideal contraceptive for teenagers, who tend to forget things

[ Read: Birth Control Methods For Men And Women ]

7. Male Condoms:

Men like using condoms because it is an easy method of contraception. Also, it puts them in control. The thin rubber or latex cover over the penis creates a barrier and prevents the sperm from entering the girl’s vagina. Some male condoms have spermicides inside and outside to kill sperms if the semen leaks out of the condom.


  • No prescription needed.
  • Easy to use and inexpensive.
  • Provides protection against STDs.


  • Can slip or break, causing the semen to enter the vagina. Hence, it is best to use male condoms along with other contraceptive methods.
  • These are not for you if you are allergic to late

8. Female Condoms:

This is similar to the male condom but designed for women. Women use it as a pouch inside the vagina. This is the only contraceptive method for women offering protection against STDs.


  • No prescription required to get a female condom.
  • Provides protection against STDs.


  • Not always easy to use.
  • Costlier than a male condom.
  • May slip off during the act.

Among the various methods of contraception, the most common methods that adolescents use are:

  • Birth control pills
  • Birth control shot
  • vaginal ring [3]

Most teenage girls use these methods of contraception, as they are easy to source and use.

Emergency Contraception Method:

There can be times when the regular contraception may not work properly. A condom may break or slip off, or the teen may not be very sure of the proper use of any other contraceptive method. In such cases, teenage girls can resort to emergency contraceptive.

There are several brands of emergency contraceptive pills that you can purchase. Read the instructions carefully before you buy these OTC pills, as you have to take the pill within a certain number of hours of having sexual intercourse.

[ Read: Sex Education For Teenagers ]

Most Effective Birth Control For Teens:

The most effective birth control method for teenagers, as prescribed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, is the Contraceptive Implants followed by the IUD. The academy found that these two approaches are the safest and provide the best contraception without many side effects.

While it is true that abstinence is the best way to protect yourself from STDs and prevent unwanted teenage pregnancy, the next best method is to use a long-term contraception method, such as an implant or IUD. [4]

The American Academy of Pediatrics prescribes the following methods as effective contraceptives for adolescents in descending order:

  1. Contraceptive Implants
  2. IUD
  3. Progestin Shots
  4. Oral Contraceptive Pills – the combination type pills
  5. Condoms

Reports state that more than 40% teenagers today are sexually active. Almost all of them use some birth control method. However, just about one in 20 uses the right and the most effective contraception. This is the main reason for the staggering 82% unplanned teen pregnancies. As per the new guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, IUDs and contraceptive implants are the most effective reversible contraception methods that prevent unplanned teen pregnancies, thereby averting the need for abortion in young girls [5].

Side Effects Of Birth Control Pills For Teenagers:

Birth control pills are 91% effective when used correctly. However, there are a few drawbacks of using the pill, such as remembering to consume the pills every day at the same time, nausea, and sore breasts. Also, birth control pills don’t provide protection against the STDs.

The pill is ideal for those teens, who have some self-discipline and are not forgetful about taking their pills daily.

Can Girls Get Pregnant On Birth Control?

There are a variety of birth control methods out there. Some methods are better than the others, but the method you choose depends largely on your convenience. The most effective way to prevent unplanned teen pregnancy is to practice abstinence. However, having information about birth control options you will help when you become sexually active.

No matter which birth control option you choose, it is important to use it correctly for it to be effective. Improper use of any of the birth control methods can make a girl pregnant [6]. Remember no birth control measure is 100 percent effective. Hence, the risk, albeit small, of getting pregnant even on birth control always exists.

[ Read: Peer Pressure And Teen Pregnancy ]

Birth Control Information For Teenagers:

For every teenager, boy or girl, an unplanned pregnancy can bring along a lot of emotional and mental stress. It can change the course of adolescent’s life. The same can happen if the teen contracts an STD.

As mentioned earlier, the best way to prevent pregnancy or STD is to practice abstinence, but that may seem too much to ask, considering the intense peer pressure and self-exploration that makes teens sexually active.

It is important to understand that even a single act of unprotected sexual intercourse can lead to pregnancy or an STD. It is true that it is often overwhelming to discuss sexuality and birth control options with your parents, but getting the right information is important. Your friends or the Internet is not always a trusted source. Hence, you should either talk to your parents or find a doctor, who has the time and inclination to answer your queries and clear your doubts about birth control.

The best birth control options for teenage girls and boys are those that are the easiest to use besides being convenient. Of course, the long-term methods of birth control, such as implants and IUD, are most effective, but using condoms is also something you should think of as it protects you from STDs. It also helps to have an emergency contraception method always on hand [7].

Confidentiality Of Contraception Services:

It is prudent to remember that though a young girl’s body is ready to conceive, it does not have physical strength and stamina to endure a childbirth. Also, the social stigma associated with teenage pregnancies, particularly when the relationship that caused the pregnancy is a casual, passing affair, will bring a lot of emotional and mental stress to the girl.

Contraceptive services are freely available. Also, there is a sense of confidentiality associated with these services considering the societal and peer pressure that most teens are exposed to. Just like adults, teenagers in the age group of 13 to 16 years have same rights to confidentiality. If you are worried that your doctor will inform your parents, and you don’t want that to happen, mention it to your doctor and as long as you thoroughly understand the information and the decisions involved, you can rest assured that your doctor will not inform your parents or anybody about your contraception.

Most medical practitioners will encourage you to inform your parents or guardians about your decision to use any of the contraception methods. However, they will not force you to speak to your parents. The decision to inform your parents will be solely yours. In cases where you may be risking your safety and health, your medical consultant will inform your parents, but after letting you know about it.

For adolescents under the age of 13, the situation is different, as the law does not consider these youngsters physically and mentally mature enough to agree to consensual sex. Here, your doctor will have to involve your parents or guardians [8].

Are Over-The-Counter Drugs Useful?

There are about 15 different methods of contraception that people use today. However, for teenagers, not all options are right. Teens tend to use over-the-counter birth control pills since they are easily available.

Also, emergency contraceptive pills (or the morning-after pills) are normally used by teenagers. However, for sexually active adolescents, there is a need for a birth control method that is more stable and regular.

[ Read: How Can Teenage Pregnancy Affect Your Life ]

In Conclusion:

Birth control is important for teenage boys and girls alike. Most schools offer sex education to students to ensure they have access to the right information and guidance on sex and birth control.

We, as a society, need to promote healthy sexual activity among teenagers, and we can achieve this by ensuring they get the right sex education. This will help sexually active adolescents to choose the right birth control option and stay protected. Let us know your opinion by commenting below.

Recommended Articles:

Was this article helpful?