Health Care Providers and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health

Key points

Quality sexual and reproductive health services (such as counseling to prevent risky behaviors as well as contraception and sexually transmitted infection services) are important for supporting adolescent health and wellbeing. As a health care provider, you can play a critical role.

What to know

Teens need comprehensive sexual and reproductive health counseling about delaying sexual activity. And for those who choose to be sexually active, they need education about contraceptive methods and condoms for sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention. They need counseling to select a method that best suits them and information about how to use that method correctly and consistently. Parents and guardians also need guidance and information to help them talk with their teens about sex, pregnancy, contraception, and STIs.

What health care providers can do

Follow guidelines that address sexual development, pregnancy prevention, contraception, STIs, and support for parents:

Make your clinic teen-friendly. Provide your adolescent patients with services that are:

Support efforts to promote health equity.

Provide parents with information on talking about sex, relationships, and how to prevent the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), STIs, and pregnancy.

Recognize that healthy adolescents may safely use any method of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraception (intrauterine devices [IUDs] and implants). Make sure teens who are having sex know about all methods of contraception. Learn more about CDC Contraceptive Guidance for Health Care Providers.

Incorporate counseling, screening, and treating STIs as they are a critical part of adolescent reproductive health visits. Read more to get updated STI screening and treatment guidelines.

During the clinic visit

  • Ask your adolescent patients about their past and current sexual and reproductive history.
  • Counsel teens who are not sexually active to continue to wait.
  • Counsel those who are sexually active that they can have less sex, or can decide not to have sex at all.
  • Take the time to help sexually active teen patients make an informed decision about what contraceptive method would suit them best. Counsel them on how to use their contraception correctly and consistently.
  • Counsel sexually active teens on the importance of always using dual methods—such as an IUD or hormonal method, and a condom—to prevent pregnancy and STIs, including HIV.