Making the decision whether to have sex is personal. You should make up your own mind when the time is right. If you are not ready for sex, say so. If you are ready to have sex or if you already have sex, you can take steps to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
If you are a teenager, you face many decisions. To help make choices that are right for you, talk to someone you trust, such as your parents, your healthcare provider at a family planning center or doctor’s office, or your school counselor.
If you decide to have sex, use birth control and protect yourself against pregnancy and STDs. Whatever method of birth control you choose, be sure that to know how it works and how to use it.
Looking for automated birth control reminders or more information about how to use birth control effectively? Check out Bedsider.
New Birth Control Research Should Not Cause Alarm
A study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found a slightly elevated breast cancer risk among women who used low-dose hormonal birth control.
The roughly 20 percent increased risk of breast cancer—similar to the extra breast cancer risk contributed by physical inactivity, excessive weight gain in adulthood, or drinking an average of one or more alcoholic drinks per day—was found to be the same no matter what method of hormonal birth control was used.
Women and teens contemplating hormonal birth control should not be alarmed by the new research.
For one thing, this was an observational study and therefore it does not prove conclusively that hormonal contraception is definitely the cause of the increased risk—only that it may be a factor, just like female gender or advancing age. For another, the increased risk documented by the researchers is still quite small, amounting to one additional case of breast cancer in every 1,500 women.
"The absolute increase in risk [found in the study] is 13 per 100,000 women overall, but only 2 per 100,000 women younger than 35 years of age," writes epidemiologist David Hunter, of the University of Oxford, in an editorial accompanying the study in NEJM.
Meanwhile, hormonal contraception continues to carry well documented benefits, including its efficacy in preventing unwanted pregnancy (which carries its own significant health issues), and substantial reductions in ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancers later in life.
"When it comes to making your own personal health choices, you need to consider the entire set of benefits and risks,” said Kohar Der Simonian, MD, Medical Services Director for Maine Family Planning. “If you have concerns, the best thing to do is to bring them to your doctor or health care provider and find the solution that’s the right fit for you, as an individual.”