By Pa Kou Thao, APNP

Did you know May is Teen Pregnancy Awareness Month? It is a month dedicated to educating teens on preventing pregnancy.

A teen pregnancy is defined as any female between the ages of 15-19 who has had a live birth, abortion or miscarriage. In 2017, the United States had 194,377 babies born to teens, which was five percent of all births during that year1. Taking a closer look, this averages to about 19 births for every 1,000 female teens ages 15-191. Although these numbers may seem low, the rate of teen pregnancies in the United States is still higher than other developed countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada2.

Pregnancy prevention starts with educating our teen population.  As we all know, abstinence or not having sex at all, is the best birth control method to prevent pregnancy.  Unfortunately, this method may not always be effective when in the moment.  Therefore, it is important to know what options are available for birth control.


The different birth control choices are:

Birth Control Method Definition Pregnancy effectiveness based on 100 women
Abstinence No sex at all 100 %
Male condom A thin film placed over a penis 82%
Female condom A thin loose film with two rings inserted in the vagina 79%
Diaphragm and cervical cup A silicone cup that is used with spermicide and inserted in vagina to cover the cervix. 83-88%
Birth control pill Oral contraceptive or “the pill” taken daily.  Types: combination hormone and progestin-only 95-91%
Birth control patch A thin, beige colored combination hormone square patch applied weekly to skin 91%
Birth control shot A progestin injection given every 3 months 94%
Vaginal ring A small, flexible, plastic ring with combination hormone inserted into the vagina 91%
IUD A small T-shaped device placed in uterus.  Types: hormonal (progestin levonorgestrel) or non-hormonal (copper).  Good for 5-10 years depending on type. 99% or more
Implant A small, match-size, plastic rod with progestin placed in arm that lasts for three years More than 99%
Sponge A small, disk-shape, soft plastic foam device that contains spermicide, which is placed in vagina to cover the cervix 76-88%
Withdrawal Avoiding sperm from entering vagina by “pulling out” 80%
Natural family planning Fertility awareness methods are focused on signs of ovulation and patterns of menstrual cycle to plan sexual activity and avoid pregnancy. 75% or less
Spermicide A chemical that kills sperm 72%
Emergency Contraception (EC) A birth control method used after having unprotected sex within 3 to 5 days or sooner.  Types: ECP (pill) or Copper IUD ECP: 87-93% in preventing

Copper IUD: 99.9% in preventing pregnancy

(above table)3

If you are a teen or a parent of a teen, contact us and we can discuss birth control options. We know it can be an uncomfortable conversation, but we are here for you! Call your Women’s Health Specialists provider at (920) 749-4000 to schedule your appointment today.




1 Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., Osterman, M.J., Driscoll, A.K., & Drake, P. (2018). Births: Final data for 2017. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from – PDF.

2 United Nations Statistics Division. (2015). Demographic Yearbook 2013. New York, NY: United Nations. Retrieved from – PDF .

3 Office of Population Affairs.  (2017, February 09). Emergency Contraception. Retrieved from