Health Care Providers and Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Teen birth rates in the United States have declined to the lowest rates seen in seven decades, yet still rank highest among developed countries. Contributing to this decline are increases in the proportion of teens who have never had sex, combined with increases in contraceptive use among sexually active teens.1,2  As a health care provider, you play a critical role in further reducing teen pregnancy rates through the care you provide to your adolescent patients.

Teens need regular health care services to receive comprehensive sexual and reproductive health counseling about the importance of delaying the initiation of sexual activity and about their contraceptive options. They need counseling on which method would be best for them, and on 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, and contraception.

What Health Care Providers Can Do

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Opinion on Adolescents and Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptionexternal icon

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.
  • 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 STDs including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • Take the time to help sexually active teen patients make an informed decision about what contraceptive method would suit them best. Counsel them on the importance of and how to use their contraception correctly and consistently.

Counseling, screening, and treating of STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and human papilloma virus are a critical part of adolescent reproductive health visits. Read more to get updated STD screening and treatment guidelines.

A Teen-Friendly Reproductive Health Visit
Contraceptive and Reproductive Health Services for Teens: Evidence-based Clinical Best Practices
Video Presentations

CDC Medscape Commentary: Teen Pregnancy and Reproductive Health image capture

Let’s Talk About Sexual Health

Video for doctors and young adults on how to talk about sexual health.

CDC Medscape commentary

How Can Providers Help in the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy

From CDC Expert Commentary, Teen Pregnancy and Reproductive Health, Wanda D. Barfield, MD, MPH.

Resources
References

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexual experience and contraceptive use among female teens—United States, 1995, 2002, and 2006–2010Source: MMWR. 2012;61:297-301.

2. Santelli JS, Lindberg LD, Finer LB, Singh S. Explaining recent declines in adolescent pregnancy in the United States: the contribution of abstinence and improved contraceptive use. Am J Public Health. 2007;97:150-156.