Ask Family Medicine Experts: Talking to Teens about Birth Control

Ask Family Medicine Experts: Talking to Teens about Birth Control

Ask Family Medicine Experts: Talking to Teens about Birth Control

It can be hard to talk to teens about anything. Grades? Dating? College preparation? Life? “No thanks, Mom and Dad.” Teenagers specialize in avoiding awkward conversations and sensitive discussions, simply because they’ve had enough of those conversations and discussions lately (puberty, anyone?) and they know it can be uncomfortable at best and embarrassing at worst. Still, these conversations are important parts of growing up and becoming successful, savvy members of an increasingly complex world. As parents, we have a responsibility to provide our children with the right information, even if they don’t want to hear it. So how can we talk to teens without “making it weird”–especially about something as sensitive, yet important, as birth control?

Talking About Birth Control

We all know that the “birds and the bees” talk is infamous for being awkward, but the next crucial step is a discussion about birth control. For generations, our world has been trying to decide how best to handle the issue of birth control in a safe, efficient, and reachable way, and now, there are countless options to consider. While that may be a good thing in some ways, it can be a lot to handle when you have to explain it all to a likely-squirming teen. The key is to do a little research yourself. Identify some safe websites to send your child to after a discussion, decide which options you’ll discuss, and mention the role your opens in a new windowFamily Doctor could play in making safe, efficient decisions.

Discussion Topics

Wondering what topics to bring up in a birth control discussion with your teen? Here are a few important things to include.

  • Implants. Implants are one of the most popular birth control options, but there can often be a lot of confusion about implants as a method of birth control, so make sure you discuss this carefully with your teen. Modern studies suggest that implants do not increase the risk of infertility; they have a long life and require little to no day-to-day maintenance, and they are widely recommended by health experts.
  • Backup plan. A “backup plan” in terms of birth control is referred to as emergency contraception. It can be accessed prescription-free in every state across the US, and it is similar to regular birth control pills but at higher doses. It is taken immediately after unprotected sex.
  • Health risks. It is important to explain the health risks associated with some types of birth control, especially oral and patch hormone birth control. Risk factors include smoking, age, and family history (strokes, heart disease, blood clots, etc.). The risks of using these types of birth control can include blood clots, stroke, and high blood pressure.

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