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Birth Control - What Do I Need to Know?

There are so many things to think about in terms of when it feels right to become sexually active: how old you are, if you feel emotionally ready to be so physically intimate with someone else, how the idea of having sex at a particular age or phase of life fits in with your morals and/or religious beliefs, and who to take such a big step with. 

This hot topic focuses on yet another important consideration when it comes to determining sexual readiness – being educated about safer sex practices and feeling prepared in how you can protect yourself and your partner from unwanted pregnancies and transmitting STD’s.


Having sex is all about making choices – choosing what you are comfortable with and what you are ready for when it comes to being physically intimate with someone else.

Here are some of those choices…

  • Making a choice about whether or not you feel ready or want to wait to have sex.
  • Making good choices about who your sex partners will be in terms of your own emotional and physical well-being.
  • Making choices about what you are and are not comfortable doing with your sex partners.
  • If you plan on having sex, making responsible choices that allow you to do so in the safest ways possible!


Once someone makes the choice to start having sex, there are some things to consider in terms of choosing a sex partner:

  • BOTH of you must agree on any and all types of sexual activities. Never use any kind of pressure, threats or intimidation to get consent.
  • Be open and honest with one another – especially about what types of sexual activities you are ready or not ready to do.
  • Treat each other with respect and as equals.
  • Be aware and attentive to each other’s pleasure and feelings.
  • Protect each other from any physical or emotional harm.
  • Discuss and make plans for preventing unwanted pregnancies and STD’s
  • Respect if your partner is not yet ready for something
  • If you are planning on having sex – think before you act, and be prepared to take responsibility for any of the consequences that result from your actions!


Birth Control Recommendations for Teens


If you do make the decision to be sexually active, it is very important to be informed about the various types of birth control methods available to you. The following methods tend to be the most common types recommended for teens. Keep in mind that there is no one best method and each person needs to discuss with their health care provider what method is most appropriate for them.



  • Continuous abstinence is not having sex, including vaginal, anal and oral sex.
  • Abstinence offers 100% protection against unwanted pregnancies and STDs.


Condoms with spermicide

§  Condoms are made of latex (often called “rubbers”), polyurethane (plastic), or natural membranes (often called "skins" and made from the intestine of sheep). Polyurethane condoms may be used if either partner is allergic to latex. Condoms act as a mechanical barrier, preventing pregnancy by stopping sperm from going into the vagina. 

§  When used properly, condoms offer protection against unwanted pregnancies and STDS, including HIV. 


  • Spermicides come in many different forms: foam, jelly, cream, film, and suppositories. Most use the chemical nonoxynol-9 against sperm. Spermicides provide lubrication and can be used with other methods of birth control.
  • A spermicide kills or disables sperm so that it cannot cause pregnancy, and offers no protection against STDs on its own. They are most effective when used consistently and correctly with a barrier method of birth control, like a condom.


OCPs (Oral Contraceptive Pills)

§  The pill can be a combination of one or two hormones, Progestin and Estrogen. The pill works by preventing the release of an egg from the ovary and by thinning the lining of the uterine wall.  It also thickens the cervical mucus in order to keep the sperm from joining with the egg.

§  The pill offers protection against unwanted pregnancies when used correctly, but not against STDs, including HIV.



§  This method entails receiving a shot of Progestin every 12 weeks in order to prevent the release of an egg.

§  Depo-provera can be effective in protecting against unwanted pregnancies when used correctly, but offers no protection against STDs, including HIV.


Vaginal Ring (i.e., NuvaRing)

§  A thin, transparent, flexible ring that you insert into the vagina yourself to provide contraception protection. Leaving the Vaginal Ring in for 3 weeks, it slowly releases estrogen and progestin hormones into the body. These hormones stop ovulation and thicken the cervical mucus, creating a barrier to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. Worn continuously for three weeks followed by a week off, each Vaginal Ring provides one month of birth control.

§  The vaginal ring offers protection against unwanted pregnancies, but not against STDs, including HIV.



TeenHealthFX knows that you have a lot of hard choices to make and hopes that your decisions work out for the best. Just remember to take care of your own physical and emotional health needs, and that of your partner, when making any decisions about sex and safe sex!


Again, TeenHealthFX recommends that you speak with a physician about which method of birth control is most appropriate for you. If you are interested in using the pill, vaginal ring or depo-provera, keep in mind that these methods of birth control that must be prescribed by a physician. If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or Girl’s Street, A Young Woman’s Health Program, at 908.522.2555. If you do not live in northern NJ you can contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood.