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What's the Best Birth Control for Teens? Hint: It's Not the Pill

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The best birth control to offer teenage girls is an implantable rod, followed by an IUD, pediatricians say in new guidance. It may seem odd to think of a pediatrician prescribing birth control, but it makes perfect sense, the American Academy of Pediatrics says in new guidance. “Adolescents consider pediatricians and other health care providers a highly trusted source of sexual health information,” the new guidance reads. Pediatricians typically see their patients well into their teens and often into their early 20s, by which time most people have had sex at least once.

The academy assigned a team to check into the most effective and safe forms of contraception for teenagers. Of course, the best sex is no sex. “Abstinence is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and is an important part of contraceptive counseling,” the guidance says. But data also show that teenagers almost always ignore abstinence advice and their own promises. So pediatricians should recommend the following contraceptives in this order:

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