Circle of Moms member Keisha B. wonders if she should advise her teen daughter to take the birth control pill, and if so, when.
There’s no doubt that teen sex is a hot-button topic — politically, morally, philosophically. But we’re most concerned about this question from a biological standpoint. We’re doctors. It’s not our place to urge teens to choose abstinence or otherwise but to help teens stay healthy—physically and emotionally—regardless of the choices they make. Also keep in mind that many teens on the Pill are not having sex, nor is having sex a requirement for using a bit of hormonal help. Going on the Pill is not going to change your teen’s values or change her sex drive significantly. Young women who are borderline anemic, get really bad cramps or migraines, or are swimmers or athletes for whom periods are an inconvenience that might impact performance, can improve their quality of life by taking the pill.
After her first period, a girl still has one to four inches left to grow in height; starting a birth control pill too early may slow growth a bit early, cutting off one to two of those inches. But for girls who have had a few years of periods, the Pill and the patch can be used safely to affect menstrual timing, flow, and cramps.
Once you start the Pill or the patch, if you are on the extended cycle pill (Seasonale and Seasonique), you can plan what’s called your placebo week (your week off the Pill or the patch) to be anywhere between weeks four and twelve, as in those ads for Seasonale. The Pill makers in the 1960s, who were mainly a bunch of middle-aged men, arbitrarily decided to make the Pill cycle one month, to match the calendar months. It is okay to have periods every one, two, or three months, as long as you shed the lining by the start of every fourth month. So, if you’re on the Pill, and your family is planning a beach vacation right when your placebo week and period are due, you can start a new pack early, then plan your period for the week after you get back. You just take the placebo week then. You don’t want to cycle faster than four weeks, however; periods every other week are a drag, and this schedule might actually increase your chances of releasing an egg while on the Pill.
Our medical view on the birth control pill as contraception? For many teens, abstinence ensures maximal satisfaction and safety. But face it, not all teens today are choosing to put off sexual intercourse until marriage. Talk to your teens about the balance between safety and satisfaction. And again, help your teens stay healthy, regardless of the choices they make. The Pill controls pregnancy by suppressing ovulation, and has the longest track record for safety and effectiveness of any contraception method.
A New York Times #1 best-selling author and host of The Dr. Oz Show, Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. is also professor and vice chairman of surgery at New York Presbyterian-Columbia University and the director of the Heart Institute. For more from Dr. Oz, check out You: The Owner's Manual for Teens, co-authored with Michael F. Roizen, M.D.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.