Day After Contraception and Your Teen

teenpregnancyTeen pregnancies have declined over the past few decades, but the United States continues to see substantially higher teen birth rates compared to other developed countries. A new policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discusses the use of emergency contraception and how it can reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy in adolescents. The statement, “Emergency Contraception,” was published in the December 2012 Pediatrics and released online Nov. 26. According to the AAP, adolescents are more likely to use emergency contraception if it’s prescribed in advance. Many teens continue to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse, and as many as 10 percent are victims of sexual assault. Other indications for use include contraceptive failures (defective or slipped condoms, or missed or late doses of other contraceptives). When used within 120 hours after having unprotected or under-protected sex, selected regimens for emergency contraception, such as Plan B, Next Choice, etc., are the only contraceptive methods to prevent unwanted pregnancy. According to the AAP, pediatricians can play an important role in counseling patients and providing prescriptions for teens in need of emergency contraception for preventing pregnancy. Patients should also know that emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and pediatricians should discuss the importance of STI testing, or treatment if needed. The AAP also encourages pediatricians to advocate for better insurance coverage and increased access to emergency contraception for teens, regardless of age.

I have very mixed feelings about this topic.  My first child was adopted, born to a 13 year old who had an unexpected pregnancy and elected to have her baby adopted rather than opting for what then would have been an abortion. Raising that precious baby and sharing her life for the past 26 years has been one of the many blessings I have had.  I had to counsel her a few years ago when she found herself with an unplanned pregnancy. I remember driving down the road when she was wrestling with the decision of what to do.  I asked her to closer her eyes and imagine herself 5 years from now and she had had an abortion.  I asked her how she would feel.  Her response was, “I would be sad for every day for the rest of my life”.  Her decision was made and I have a wonderful grandson, who has blessed my life and been a huge blessing to my daughter and many others. 

I share the above information, as I think you should have it, and my own story, not to imply that you should make the same choice if you find yourself in the same position, but that you have this story to reflect on. 

 

Dr. Paul

 

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