5 Tips for Talking to Your Teen About Birth Control

Being a parent isn’t always easy. The job of raising another human being can be difficult, especially when it comes to having those tough conversations. While you want your children to be educated, talking to them about sex and birth control can be awkward. But that’s the job of being a parent.

Has the time come to sit down with your teenager and discuss birth control? It doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable conversation. Instead, use this as an opportunity to learn more about your teen. This will help remove any barriers that might be keeping them from confiding in you. If you can openly discuss birth control with your teenager, your relationship will only get stronger.

In this article, we highlight five tips for talking about birth control with your teen:

1. Educate Yourself

There’s one thing you should do prior to discussing birth control with your teen. That’s to make sure you’re educated on the topic. After all, how can you talk about something you don’t know?

Take some time to research what birth control methods are currently available and the side effects of those methods. Make sure you know how much various options cost, how to choose the right one, and where to buy birth control. For example, these days, birth control pills can be delivered straight to your front door. You should also educate yourself on STIs, like gonorrhea and herpes, so you’re aware of how they’re transmitted. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to share with your teens.

2. Make Sure Your Teen Is Ready

Before discussing birth control with your teenager, make sure they’re ready. While there’s no perfect time to have this conversation, it’s important to make sure your teen is mature enough to handle it.

According to a 2019 study, the average teen has sex by the time they’re 17 years old. With that said, not every child is the same. Some might initiate sex at a younger age, while others might initiate at an older age. Either way, you don’t want to wait until your teenager is sexually active to talk about birth control.

In fact, the earlier you strike up this conversation, the better. Even if your teen hasn’t had sex yet, make sure they know that birth control exists and that options are available. That way they’ll be prepared when they do become sexually active.

3. Avoid Overreacting

As a parent, you probably don’t love the idea of having a conversation about sex and birth control with your teenager. We get it. There’s no denying it can be an embarrassing topic. But it doesn’t have to be.

In fact, you should do everything in your power to remain calm and relaxed during the conversation. Don’t be accusatory or overact if your child admits they’ve been sexually active. Regardless of your personal thoughts, it’s important your child doesn’t feel judged. If they do, it might deter them from opening up to you in the future.

Not only do you want to be in control of your own emotions, but pay attention to your teen’s emotions as well. If they seem incredibly uncomfortable, don’t force the conversation. Instead, wait a couple of days or weeks and try again.

When having these tough conversations, it’s easy to forget to listen to your teen. After all, you’ve prepared information and want to make sure your teenager is fully equipped. But you also want to make sure your teen doesn’t feel they’re being lectured to. It needs to be a conversation, so make sure you’re listening just as much as you’re talking.

4. Discuss Birth Control Options

From pills to condoms, there are many different types of birth control methods for teens to choose from. Birth control comes in two forms: barrier methods and hormonal birth control.

Barrier methods are types of birth control that create a “barrier.” For example, condoms fall in this category. Hormonal birth control, on the other hand, is a method that manipulates hormones in the body to either suppress or alter ovulation. For example, birth control pills, implants, and injections do this.

The CDC reported that a majority of sexually active teens use condoms and birth control pills. Not using these correctly and consistently can lead to pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease. So be sure to discuss correct use with your child.

The intrauterine devices (IUD), aka long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), is also an effective type of birth control. IUDs are implanted in the body, which removes the chance for user error. With that said, this doesn’t mean you should force your teenager to get an IUD. While they might offer more protection against pregnancy, IUDs don’t protect against STIs, and they can also come with side effects.

Birth control is a personal decision and you shouldn’t force your teen to choose one option over the other.

5. Introduce Other Benefits

Birth control doesn’t just protect against unplanned pregnancy or some STDs. Hormonal birth control offers secondary purposes as well. For example, it can ease painful cramps, reduce heavy menstrual bleeding, and even improve acne. Some women are prone to irregular periods. With the help of hormonal birth control, periods can become more regular.

When talking about birth control with your teenager, make sure they know it’s a viable option even if they aren’t sexually active. Up to 37% of teenage girls experience heavy and painful periods that can stop them from completing daily tasks. If your child is one of them, make sure you talk to them about birth control.

Talking to your teenager about anything sex-related can be uncomfortable. In fact, some parents avoid the topic altogether in hopes it’ll keep their kids from growing up. The only thing avoidance will do is hurt your teenagers in the long run. You want to make sure your teens are set up for success, especially when it comes to their sexual health. So, make sure you talk to them about birth control. Remain calm, discuss the benefits, and guide your teenagers to make safe decisions.