Is The Pill Passé?

Women everywhere were thrilled when the pill came on the market. The pill was received with a sigh of relief and a sense of tremendous liberation. But today, teens and young adults are turning their noses up at the pill and opting for longer-term contraceptive solutions such as implants and injections. This is according to Dr. Peggy Smith, the director of the Baylor Teen Health Clinic, which is affiliated with the Baylor College of Medicine. Smith is considered an expert in the field of teen sexual health.

New-Fangled Choices

Young women today are choosing Depo-Provera or Implanon as their contraceptives of choice. Depo-Provera is an injectable contraceptive that lasts for three months, while Implanon is an implant that is placed in the arm and works for three years. Smith commented on the new-fangled birth control choices, "The birth control pill, although it is widely available and once was considered a revolution in contraception, is old technology for today’s teens. These new options eliminate the once-a-day, every day usage of the pill, which is an issue for young people. They find it easier to use something they can get, and then forget about for 90 days or even longer."

There are also teens that are opting to use an intrauterine device (IUD), for instance the Mirena. Insertion of these devices must be done by a physician. This type of birth control is most popular in women aged 20-30.

Teens tend to have insurance issues. They may not have any insurance, or they may be underinsured. Long-term methods of birth control are therefore more affordable for women in this age group who are vulnerable for becoming pregnant yet cannot pay to refill a monthly prescription for the Pill, explained Smith. At the Baylor Teen Health Clinic, counselors encourage teens to choose these long-term options since they increase the chances that a young woman will graduate high school without having to drop out due to the demands of teen pregnancy. Using these long-term contraceptives leaves a window of opportunity open for teenaged girls.

Other Concerns

Meantime, while Smith is glad that the medical community has an effective way to prevent teen pregnancies, there are many other concerns about teen health that must be addressed. Smith says that teens don't realize the magnitude of the risks associated with HIV and STD's. The teen health clinic offers some candid information on this topic to area teens. The clinic employs the ABC method which counsels teens according to the following philosophy:

A) Abstinence if possible

B) Be faithful to one sexual partner, should abstinence not be possible

C) Use a condom, no exceptions

Smith explains that while we hope our teens will abstain from sex at their tender age, we should offer them a plan B that provides them with the protection they deserve.

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