Young people can safely use any contraceptive method. Age is not a medical reason for denying any method to adolescents.
- Young women are often less tolerant of side effects than older women. With counseling, however, they will know what to expect and may be less likely to stop using their methods.
- Unmarried young people may have more sex partners than older people and so may face a greater risk of STIs. It is important when counseling young people to consider STI risk and how to reduce it.
For some contraceptive methods there are specific considerations for young people (see contraceptive method chapters for complete guidance):
Long-acting reversible contraceptives—implants and IUDs
- Implants, copper-bearing IUDs, and LNG-IUDs may be good choices for many young women because:
– These methods are very effective—fewer than 1 pregnancy per 100 women in the first year of use.
– Once in place, these methods do not require any action by the user. She does not have to plan in advance for sex.
– They work for a number of years.
– They are quickly reversible. Once the implant or IUD is removed, a woman can again become pregnant.
– It is not obvious that the woman is using a contraceptive method.
- IUDs are more likely to come out among women who have not given birth because their uteruses are small.
- Injectables can be used without others knowing.
- Some young women find taking a pill every day particularly difficult.
Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs)
- Young women may have less control than older women over having sex and using contraception. They may need ECPs more often. It is safe to use ECPs multiple times between monthly bleedings. Using combined oral contraceptives or a long-acting reversible method would be more effective in the long run.
- Provide young women with ECPs in advance, for use when needed. ECPs can be used whenever she has any unprotected sex, including sex against her will, or a mistake has occurred when using contraception.
Female sterilization and vasectomy
- Provide with great caution. Young people and people with few or no children are among those most likely to regret sterilization.
Male and female condoms
- Protect against STIs as well as pregnancy. Many young people need protection against both.
- Readily available, and they are affordable and convenient for occasional sex.
- Young men may be less successful than older men at using condoms correctly. They may need practice putting condoms on.
Diaphragms, spermicides, and cervical caps
- Although among the least effective methods, young women can control use of these methods, and they can be used as needed.
Fertility awareness methods
- Until a young woman has regular menstrual cycles, fertility awareness methods should be used with caution.
- Need a backup method or ECPs on hand in case abstinence fails.
- Requires the man to know when he is about to ejaculate so he can withdraw in time. This may be difficult for some young men.
- One of the least effective methods of pregnancy prevention, but it may be the only method available—and always available—for some young people.