Tool Kit for Teen Care, second edition
What is contraception?
• Another way to block sperm is by using a spermicide,
which is a chemical placed in the vagina that kills sperm.
• Contraception or birth control helps stop you from
There are foam, cream, film, and suppositories that contain
becoming pregnant. Each month an egg is released
spermicides. These should be used with a condom.
from the female ovary (ovulation). If the egg is met by
a sperm, the egg can become fertilized and attach to the
inside of the womb or uterus (implantation). Pregnancy
Who should use contraception?
occurs when the fertilized egg is implanted.
• If you are having or expecting to have vaginal–penile
• Contraception can stop pregnancy from happening in
sexual intercourse and do not want to become pregnant
a number of ways.
or cause a pregnancy, you should use some form of
• Contraception can be swallowed (birth control pills, or
the “pill”), injected (hormone injections or “the shot”),
• If condoms or other barrier contraception methods
placed on the skin (“the patch”), placed inside the
are used, they need to be used every time you have
vagina (vaginal contraceptive ring or “the ring”)
or placed under the skin (implant).
• If you are having any sexual contact (not just inter-
• Each of these methods of contraception uses hormones,
course) and want to avoid getting sexually transmitted
and all work very well if they are used correctly.
diseases (STDs), you should use a form of protection or
Hormonal contraception has either one hormone
contraception that helps prevent contact of bodily fluids
(a progestin) or two hormones (an estrogen and progestin).
(male or female latex condoms).
• There also is a type of contraception, in the shape of
a “T,” that a health care provider places inside of the
What is good about contraception?
uterus (the intrauterine device [IUD]). It can stop
pregnancy in the following ways:
• If you are having close sexual contact, contraception
— Prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg
greatly reduces the risk of pregnancy and one method—
— Decreases the chance the sperm will enter the
the latex condom—prevents the spread of human
cervix (opening of the uterus)
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and can reduce the risks
— Thins the lining of the uterus making it harder
of getting some other STDs, including chlamydia,
for a fertilized egg to attach
gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis.
• Contraception can work by preventing sperm from
• Condoms also can lower the risk of genital herpes,
entering the cervix (opening of the uterus). Contracep-
syphilis, chancroid, and human papillomavirus infection
tives that use this method are called barrier devices
when any possibly infected areas are covered or
because they block sperm. Barrier devices include
protected by the condom.
the following contraceptives:
• Use of contraception gives a message that you want to
— The condom (male or female)
be responsible for your behavior and actions.
— The diaphragm (a floppy rubber circle that covers
• Hormonal contraception may help with menstrual
cramps, acne, and oily skin or hair. It makes menstrual
— The cervical cap (a smaller rubber circle that sits
periods lighter in flow and may be helpful for teens who
right on the cervix).
lose a lot of blood because of heavy periods. It also helps
— The sponge (a donut-shaped foam sponge that is
to prevent certain types of cancers that women can get,
inserted into the vagina)
such as cancer of the uterus and ovaries.
• Hormonal contraception that contains estrogen may
keep bones stronger.
The AmericAn college of obsTeTriciAns And gynecologisTs
Tool Kit for Teen Care, second edition
is there a risk to using contraception?
• At some clinics, visits and contraceptive methods are
free. Other clinics charge a fee if you don’t have insur-
• There are no health risks connected with using latex
ance or if your insurance does not cover it. You should
condoms unless you or your partner has an allergy to
have a plan for how you will pay for the contraception
latex. If either partner is allergic to latex, polyurethane
and how you can contact the health care provider if you
condoms are available.
have any questions or concerns. Be sure to give your
• Hormonal contraception (the pill, the shot, the ring, the
health care provider your contact information too.
implant, and the patch) is safe for most young women
but should be discussed with a health care professional.
What type of contraception is best?
• There are some risks associated with using the intra-
uterine device. Because the risks can vary from person
• Abstinence is the safest and most effective way to
to person, this option also should be discussed with
prevent pregnancy and STDs. It requires determina-
a health care professional.
tion, cooperation of your partner, and some effort to
• Some forms of contraception may not be safe if you
find other nonsexual ways to share your feelings. You
have certain diseases or medical conditions. You should
may need to practice ways of saying no to sex, such as
talk with your health care provider about any possible
“I’ve decided to wait,” “I’m not ready,” “I’ve made a
risks and the safety of each contraceptive method to
decision not to have sex until I’m older,” or “I’ve
find the best option for you.
decided to wait to have sex until marriage.”
• If you are having sex, it is best to use one of the
hormonal methods (the pill taken correctly every day,
Where can you get contraception?
the shot, a weekly contraceptive skin patch, or the
• In almost all states, you do not need parents’ permis-
monthly vaginal ring) or the IUD along with a latex
sion to get contraception from a store, health facility,
condom every time you have sexual intercourse.
or health professional. But, if possible, you should talk
• If the contraception method fails (eg, the condom
with your parents or another trusted adult about this
breaks, you forgot to take one or more pills, no method
was used, or sex was forced), emergency contraception
• Condoms are available in drug stores, grocery stores,
can be used.
discount department stores, family planning centers,
STD clinics, teen clinics, and some schools. It is
What is emergency contraception?
important to use a new, unused condom every time
you have sex.
• Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after
• Using a lubricant when using condoms can make sex
unprotected intercourse. (For more information see the
more enjoyable and it can lower the chances of the
fact sheet “Emergency Contraception.”) Using Plan B
condom ripping or breaking. Latex condoms must be
One-Step and Next Choice or certain oral contraceptive
used with water-based lubricants because they do not
pills within 120 hours or 5 days of unprotected
damage condoms. Latex condoms should not be used
intercourse, offers this protection. It is most effective
with oil-based lubricants.
when taken as soon as possible.
• Hormonal contraceptives must be prescribed, injected,
• Plan B One-Step and Next Choice is available over the
or inserted by a health professional in a doctor’s office,
counter if you are 17 years old or older. If you are
family planning center, or teen clinic. A pelvic exam-
younger than 17 years, you must get a prescription
ination is not needed before getting a prescription for
from your doctor. Ask for a prescription the next time
most hormonal contraceptives, except for the IUD. If
you see your doctor so you’ll have it in case of an
you have already had sexual intercourse, you may need
a pregnancy and STD test before contraception can be
• The copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception
if placed in the uterus within 5 days of unprotected sex.
You must visit a health care provider if you decide to
use this method.
What types of contraception are less useful for
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Telephone: (404) 639-3534 or (800) 311-3435
• Withdrawal (taking the penis out of the vagina before
Center for Young Women’s Health
ejaculation) does not work well—orgasm and ejaculation Children’s Hospital Boston
are not easy to control once they begin and the risk of
Telephone: (617) 355-2994
pregnancy is high. All it takes is for one sperm to reach
The Emergency Contraception Website
• Periodic abstinence (when a couple does not have sex
Office of Population Research, Princeton University
at certain times during each month) does not work as
Telephone: (888) NOT-2-LATE or (609) 258-4870
well as other methods of contraception. It is still better
than using no method at all.
Go Ask Alice
Telephone: (212) 854-5453
• Spermicidal suppositories, foams, and creams and the
sponge used alone may not be enough. These methods
work better with a condom.
Telephone: (212) 248-1111 or (800) 355-0244
for more information
National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
Telephone: (202) 478-8500
We have provided information on the following organizations and web
sites because they have information that may be of interest to our
readers. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
(ACOG) does not necessarily endorse the views expressed or the facts
Telephone: (800) 230-PLAN (7526)
presented by these organizations or on these web sites. Further, ACOG
does not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
available from these organizations or on these web sites.
Telephone: (212) 819-9770
Advocates for Youth
Telephone: (202) 419-3420
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Telephone: (800) 561-2416 or (613) 730-4192
American Academy of Pediatrics
Telephone: (847) 434-4000
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Telephone: (202) 638-5577 or (800) 621-8335
Telephone: (800) 230-PLAN (7526) or (212) 541-7800
Telephone: (215) 955-9847
Prepared by the ACOG Committee on Adolescent Health Care. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
Copyright © 2010, The American Col ege of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 409 12th Street, SW, PO Box 96920, Washington, DC 20090-6920 (AA415) 12345/43210