Youth Blog: The What’s and How’s of Birth Control

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This blog post is by Jessica Griepenburg, a member of OSBHA Student Health Advocates

What is birth control?

Birth control, simply put, is pregnancy prevention. But there are countless methods and types that help with all sorts of things, including menstruation control and prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).
Though birth control use is mostly accepted among adults, youth aren’t often taught the importance — and benefits — of using birth control. Youth ages 15 to 24 make up half of the reported STDs every year, and though teen pregnancy rates are declining, in 2016 almost 210,000 babies were born to girls ages 15–19. It is important that young people know what birth control does, and how to use it so that they may lead happier and healthier lives.

What type is right for you?
There are so many different methods of birth control that it is relatively easy to find a type that matches your personal situation. Some types of birth control are scheduled, like shots or pills, while others are more low maintenance, like an implant or Intrauterine Device (IUD). Birth control methods like external and internal condoms are used every time sex occurs.

Birth control also ranges in price. For young people, it may be difficult to get more expensive methods such as an IUD. One-use methods like condoms tend to be cheaper and are often more easily accessible, as many stores carry them.

When deciding what birth control method works for you, you should be aware of multiple things: price (will it be a reasonable purchase for you?), accessibility (can you get it at a store? does it require a prescription?), and effectiveness (for example, pills are 91% effective, whereas condoms are 85% effective in preventing pregnancy).

How can you learn more? 
Before deciding which birth control is right for you, you should do thorough research. If you are comfortable talking to a healthcare provider, many doctors will readily give information on different types and help you decide what works for you. If not, many organizations have extensive information online. Planned Parenthood’s website has a clear and comprehensive list of many birth control options, their cost, effectiveness, and lots of other information. Planned Parenthood also provides a quiz that you can take to get a better idea of what method is best for you.

The most important thing to remember when researching birth control is what will help you stay happy and healthy.

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