Image: movie still from Juno. Image source.
Teen pregnancy rates have been significantly declining over recent years but, according to a new study, this is due to increased — and increasingly effective — use of contraceptives, rather than less sex. According to federal data in the US, births to teens aged 15 to 19 dropped by 36 percent from 2007 to 2013, while pregnancies fell by 25 percent from 2007 to 2011. The study, which was published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, shows that the amount of sex being had by teenagers during that period remained largely unchanged. And it wasn’t because these teens were having more abortions, either — since abortion has been declining among all age groups, but especially among teenagers.
Instead, the researchers from the Guttmacher Institute and Columbia University found that improved contraceptive use was responsible for the decrease in teen pregnancies. “By definition, if teens are having the same amount of sex but getting pregnant less often, it’s because of contraception,” explains Laura Lindberg, the study’s lead author and a Guttmacher researcher.
It wasn’t a single method that was to thank, either, but rather the fact that teens were using contraceptives more often and also turning to those considered most effective, like the birth control pill, IUDs and implants for example. In addition to this, though, research showed that many teens had also been combining their contraceptive methods. That said, though, Lindberg explains that the use of any contraceptive at all has potential to make a major difference. In fact, it is for this reason that rates of teen pregnancy have actually been on the decrease since as early as the 1990s. “If a teen uses no method they have an 85 percent chance of getting pregnant [within a year],” she says. “Using anything is way more effective than that 85 percent risk.”
According to NPR, certain US policy changes could also help to drop the teen pregnancy rate even more. Like the Affordable Care Act requirement, for example, which boosts insurance coverage for contraception. They also point to the 2014 recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that sexually active teenagers be offered “long-acting reversible contraception” methods such as implants and intrauterine devices, which are highly effective and do not require any additional action, such as remembering to take a daily pill. As Lindberg points out, though, “the best [contraceptive] method for anyone is one that they are willing and able to use.”
You might be interested to read these articles related to contraception:
1) Australia Introduces Revolutionary Morning After Pill, Gives Women Control Over Their Bodies For Once
2) Catalogue’s Guide to the 2016 Australian Election: How the Main Parties Will Affect Your Health
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