The best birth control to offer teenage girls is an implantable rod, followed by an IUD, pediatricians say in new guidance. It may seem odd to think of a pediatrician prescribing birth control, but it makes perfect sense, the American Academy of Pediatrics says in new guidance. "Adolescents consider pediatricians and other health care providers a highly trusted source of sexual health information," the new guidance reads. Pediatricians typically see their patients well into their teens and often into their early 20s, by which time most people have had sex at least once.

The academy assigned a team to check into the most effective and safe forms of contraception for teenagers. Of course, the best sex is no sex. "Abstinence is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and is an important part of contraceptive counseling," the guidance says. But data also show that teenagers almost always ignore abstinence advice and their own promises. So pediatricians should recommend the following contraceptives in this order:

  • Progestin Implants — Implanon and Nexplanon are both single-rod implants.
  • Intrauterine devices or IUDs.
  • Progestin-only injectable contraception — known as Depo-Provera, it's given every 13 to 15 weeks.
  • Combined oral contraceptive pills — "The Pill" is the fourth choice, because young women do not always use it reliably.
  • Condoms rank lower. While 96 percent of teens who have had sex have used condoms, and while they can protect against sexually transmitted infections, teens often neglect to use them.


— Maggie Fox

First published September 29 2014, 12:18 AM