An Ineffective Form of Birth Control Is Gaining Popularity

June 30th 2017

Tiernan Hebron

Typically, statistics regarding teenagers and sex are troubling. However, the CDC’s annual survey of ‘Youth Risk Behaviors,’ found that the number of high school students having sex dropped from 47 percent to 41 percent in the last decade. And on top of the decrease in sexual activity, there has also been in increase in the use of contraception.

Eighty-one percent of teenage girls report using some form of birth control the first time they have sex. Ninety percent of girls said they used contraception during their last sexual encounter within the previous three months. And overall 99.4 percent of sexually experienced teen girls reported using some form of birth control. Those numbers are a major improvement from previous decades.

The CDC also reports that the amount of teenage pregnancies has dropped 8 percent since 2014, making it a historic low of 24 births per 1,000 women. Although this is all good news, the U.S. still has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the developed world. What gives?

Why are teenagers still getting pregnant if fewer of them are having sex and more of them are using birth control? The answer might have something to do with another number from the CDC: 60 percent of teen girls reported using the pull-out method as their form of birth control. That makes it the second most popular form of contraception behind condoms.

Using birth control is typically a good thing when it comes to teenagers, but not with regard to the pull-out method, also called the withdrawal method. Although pulling out can be almost as effective as using a condom when done correctly, it’s rarely done correctly by the teenage population. This method requires an understanding of one’s body, sexual organs, and experiences, which teenagers simply don’t have. Which is why 20 percent of all couples who use this method will still get pregnant within a year.

And pregnancy is just one of the problems associated with the pull-out method, it also provides zero protection against STD’s. This is a major problem, considering that 1 in 4 teens contract an STD every year.

"We have more kids using some form of contraception,” reports Dr. Ellen Rome, head of Cleveland Clinic Children's Center for Adolescent Medicine to CBS News. “But the problem is that lumped into that is the group [using] withdrawal as that method. So we have room for improvement in how we counsel kids on effective contraception."

How do we improve upon that? By continuing to talk openly and honestly about sex, with some additions that cover how to use various methods of contraception. Teens can’t just get the information on what types of methods are out there, they also need to know how to use them and why it’s so important to always use a condom in addition to whatever birth control method they use.