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When should teens use emergency contraception? :

November 18, 2019

Emergency contraception helps reduce the risk of pregnancy after sexual intercourse and is safe for youths, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Emergency contraception is taken after sex. It is more likely to prevent pregnancy when used as soon as possible after sex.

It does not disrupt an implanted pregnancy in the uterus. It won’t stop sexually transmitted infections.

The AAP recommends that sexually active youths always use two forms of birth control. One is a condom, which helps protect against infections.

Emergency contraception is useful in several situations. For example:

  • The youth forgot to use birth control.
  • The condom broke or slipped.
  • She threw up after taking her birth control pill.
  • She was sexually assaulted.
  • There are three emergency contraception methods.

The first, most effective, method is to have a doctor insert a copper intrauterine device (IUD) within five days of sexual intercourse. It can help prevent pregnancy and stays in place. It also is a long-term birth control method. The copper IUD does not contain hormones.

The second method is oral emergency contraceptive drugs. The generic names are ulipristal acetate and levonorgestrel. Levonorgestrel is approved to be sold without a prescription to individuals of all ages. Ulipristal is available by prescription only. The pills should be taken within 120 hours after unprotected or under-protected sex to help prevent pregnancy.

The AAP recommends that an emergency contraception prescription or supply be given to youths in advance. That way, they can use it as soon as possible when needed.

All youths should be counseled about how and when it can be used. This includes youths with physical or cognitive disabilities. Youths with disabilities are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted, according to the AAP.

What if patients cannot get emergency contraceptive drugs? The third method is to ask their pediatrician about how to use oral contraceptive pills within 120 hours of sex to help prevent pregnancy.

After taking emergency contraception, it is important to visit the pediatrician and talk about more effective options to prevent pregnancy. Youths also can be tested for infections. They should ask about immunizations, too. The AAP recommends two doses of the human papillomavirus vaccine to protect against sexually transmitted infections that cause cancer.

Trisha Korioth

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