Teens' Use of Birth Control

A couple close together"My first encounter with [your clinic] was after the delivery of my beautiful daughter. By keeping myself healthy and delaying another pregnancy, I was able to complete my education." — A thank-you note from a teen client at a Title X family planning clinic

Being a parent can be challenging, especially as a teen. Babies come with lots of responsibilities. And as a teen, those responsibilities can be totally overwhelming. The person we think you should be worrying about most during your teenage years is you, not a baby. That's why if you're a teen and are having sex, you need to know the most effective options for preventing pregnancy.

For more than 40 years, the HHS Office of Population Affairs (OPA) has been providing affordable, quality family planning and related preventive health services for low-income teens and adults by funding Title X family planning clinics. In 2013, Title X clinic providers saw more than 600,000 teen girls who needed contraception. About 1 out of every 14 chose long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) as their preferred method of birth control.

What are LARCs? As their name suggests, they're extremely effective, reversible, and last for a long time. LARCs include intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants. What's great about LARCs is that they don't require much effort on your part. Once your health care provider puts your IUD or implant in place, you can't feel it, and you can pretty much forget about it. The reason teens and women are choosing LARCs is because they're easy to use and more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Title X providers know that LARCs are safe for most teens. Both IUDs and implants are much more effective than oral contraceptives (the pill) and condoms, the two methods used most often by teens. In order for the pill and condoms to be effective, you have to use them correctly. For the pill, you have to remember to take it at the exact same time every single day, no matter where you are or what you're doing. And condoms need to be used correctly every time you have sex.

Title X family planning clinics offer a broad range of FDA-approved birth control options and related counseling. They also offer HIV testing, pregnancy testing and counseling, breast and cervical cancer screenings, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and other patient education and referrals as needed. Title X health clinics provide birth control at no or reduced cost to the client.

To find a clinic near you, check out OPA's Title X Family Planning Clinic locator.

To get more info on teens and quality family planning services, check out the recent CDC Vital Signs: Trends in Use of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception Among Teens Aged 15—19 Years Seeking Contraceptive Services — United States, 2005—2013.