Committee Opinion No. 710: Counseling Adolescents About Contraception

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Abstract

Modern contraceptives are very effective when used correctly and, thus, effective counseling regarding contraceptive options and provision of resources to increase access are key components of adolescent health care. Regardless of a patient’s age or previous sexual activity, the obstetrician–gynecologist routinely should address her contraceptive needs, expectations, and concerns. Obstetrician–gynecologists should be aware of and be prepared to address the most common misperceptions about contraceptive methods in a way that is age appropriate and compatible with the patient’s health literacy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that discussions about contraception begin with information on the most effective methods first. Emergency contraception routinely should be included in discussions about contraception, including access issues. Moreover, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that obstetrician–gynecologists work with their office staff to establish office procedures and routines that safeguard the privacy of adolescent patients whenever possible. Adolescents’ right of refusal for initiating or discontinuing a method should be addressed by obstetrician–gynecologists. At no time should an adolescent patient be forced to use a method chosen by someone other than herself, including a parent, guardian, partner, or health care provider. The initial encounter and follow-up visits should include continual reassessment of sexual concerns, behavior, relationships, prevention strategies, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.

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