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CDC Declares the Best Birth Control Methods for Teens

The Short of It

The teenage pregnancy rate has dropped since 1991; more young people are waiting to have sex; and 90 percent of sexually active teens says they use birth control. But young women ages 15 to 19 still gave birth to 273,000 babies in 2013. The CDC hopes to bring down that number by encouraging teens to use implants or IUDs as methods of pregnancy prevention.

The Lowdown

Most teens rely on condoms and "the pill" to prevent unwanted pregnancies. But when not used consistently and correctly, these measures are much less effective.

On the contrary, hormonal implants and intrauterine devices are very effective. Less than 1 percent of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) users become pregnant during the first year of use. But a new CDC study finds that less than 5 percent of teens are using LARCs.

Researchers say there are many misconceptions about implantable and IUD birth control for sexually active teenagers. But, LARCs are "safe and appropriate for teens," Ileana Arias, CDC principal deputy director, said in a press release. She also says health care providers need more training on insertion and removal of these devices in teens.

The Upshot

LARC use among teens has gone up, from 0.4 percent in 2005 to 7 percent in 2013. The CDC says teen pregnancy will be reduced even more if access to and education about IUDs and implants increases. The downsides are these forms of birth control don't prevent STDs, like condoms do, and the high cost of implants and IUDs discourages teens from using them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also endorse the usage of LARC forms of birth control for teens. Of course, they say abstinence is the best way to prevent teenage pregnancy.

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