Avoiding Unwanted Pregnancy
There are a number of contraceptive strategies available to today’s teens. There are two issues to take into consideration when choosing an approach—the failure rate of the approach and the degree of protection it offers against sexually transmitted diseases.
The failure rate of a birth control method is the percent of females who become pregnant while using it. That includes pregnancies the method could not prevent, even if used properly, and those resulting from failure to use the technique correctly and consistently (generally a much higher figure). Condoms, for instance, only tear or slip about two to three percent of the time. But the failure rate for condom use is typically about 14 percent.
In declining order of effectiveness, they are:
 Abma, J., Martinez, G., et. al., Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use and Childbearing 2002, National Center for Health Statistics, December 2004, p. 2,. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_024.pdf., Accessed 12/27/2004
 One small qualification is in order. There is a very slight chance of pregnancy if semen is inadvertently introduced into the girl’s vagina during certain sexual practices that approach but stop short of penetration.
 Use rates include married teens and apply only to the 72-84 percent of sexually active teens who use contraception..
 Above descriptions and failure rates adapted from Dowshen, S, Macones, G. and Izenberg, N., Birth Contol: What You Need to Know, The Nemours Foundation, 2003, available at http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/contraception/bc_chart.html. Accessed 12/15/2004