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Teen Girls and Birth Control—How Young is Too Young?

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When I first talked with my parents about going to see a gynecologist and getting prescribed birth control pills, they freaked out. I was almost 17 years old and in a serious, long-term relationship. But the response I got was that I was being irresponsible just for having sex, and birth control was a no-go. A few months later, I had a pregnancy scare. I was lucky, but some young women aren’t.

Many parents are faced with a tough decision, especially when religion plays a part, about whether or not to allow their teenage daughters to get a prescription for contraceptive pills. And these parents ask themselves the same question mine did: “How young is too young?”

I’m not a doctor, but I know that there is a huge difference between the girls who had parents that were open to discussing sexual health with their daughters and the parents who didn’t. The ones who learned healthy sexual habits—including using birth control and practicing safe sex—are the ones who have escaped STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Those of us who were taught the “abstinence-only” approach have had to learn about sex the hard way, and many of us have suffered the consequences.

So, how young is too young for birth control? There is no medical answer. Some organizations have information on contraceptive pills available that is teen specific and outline a variety of benefits that adolescents can reap from birth control that go beyond pregnancy prevention.

It comes down to a purely parental decision, but what parents must keep in mind is that realistic education is best for their daughters. Keeping open lines of communication and being honest can save your daughters from negative effects that last a lifetime.

For more information: http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/contraception/contraception_birth.html

Add a Comment12 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I just wasted two minutes of reading this article trying to find out the right age. Just for the article to tell me what I already know.

May 19, 2017 - 4:27am
EmpowHER Guest

My teen year old daughter has had her first menstrual cycle. And while a agree that waiting would be great, Ive always thought it was our duty to prepare them. We may not want them having sex. but we don't control them, all we can do is be supportive, teach them the importance of condoms and birth control. Having parents help rather then make demands is the key to helping our kids. It may make us mothers uncomfortable but keeping our kids safe is key. It ll comes down to communication out their bodies and help to make smart choices sexual.

Parents are the support and that key to safe sex, because whether or not parents try t stop it they will just go elsewhere. The arguments are pointless kids will d hat they want we just have to show them there safe options

May 4, 2016 - 3:06pm
EmpowHER Guest

I think no they should not because birth control can be bad for you if you dont know what the symthoms can be. but also they can be good to used to protect you from getting pregnet. instead of using birthcontrol us CONDOMS!!!!!!! their better and they dont give you bad symthoms..

February 28, 2012 - 9:42am
(reply to Anonymous)

And what bad symptoms are you talking about? If the doc prescribing the pill isn't explaining side effects, well read the information packet that comes with every pack of pills! Be pro active. Ignorance is no excuse.

March 13, 2012 - 11:11pm
EmpowHER Guest

The best advice on parenting that I was ever given was, "remember you are raising adults, not children." We have the responsibility of raising caring, educated, COMPETENT people. If you never teach your child the skills to manage their lives, you are doing them a horrible injustice. I worked with a young woman (22) who, when asked to vacuum, was embarrassed bc her mother had done all the housework and she had never learned to operate a vacuum. Her mother prided herself on being a nurturing mother and wife, but was the young woman really better served by this type of parenting? Now imagine how lost as to her own sexuality this girl was. She talked with me later that summer when she began dating a man. She was grossly misinformed from the tidbits she'd picked up, horribly ashamed at having to ask, and vulnerable to the man's misinformation. I don't want that for my daughters.

March 19, 2010 - 4:35pm
(reply to Anonymous)


What a wonderful piece of parenting advice. When we as young adults leave home, we need to know how to balance a checkbook, iron a wrinkled jacket, purchase car insurance, handle ourselves on the job, find apartments to live in or cars to drive, cook a meal and make doctor's appointments when necessary; why is learning about sexual health and wellness any different? We get questions all the time on EmpowHer that show us how little is being taught about sexuality these days. I think the girl you talked with was lucky to have found you, Anon; I know you made a big difference in her life.

March 22, 2010 - 9:25am
EmpowHER Guest

Informative and helpful article for troubled teens and parents. Parents are desperately looking for a help which can make their teens to understand the things. Most of the parents are looking for a structured support to teens. By sharing your experienced thoughts on teens issues, you can help other parents with your experienced suggestions and also you can get answers for your questions. Find out various questions posted on teenage pregnancy, problems faced by teens and teen parents with detailed discussions.


April 13, 2009 - 11:49pm
EmpowHER Guest


Don't forget that 50 years ago, having children and being married at 18 was not only acceptable but expected for most young women! Sheltered adolescents and young adults grow into naive and uninformed adults too often. Relationships are a normal part of the teenage experience as we grow and learn about our sexuality. No one should feel ashamed or judged for this. Instead, they should be thoroughly educated. If 16 year olds can work, they are likely mature enough for a relationship.

March 13, 2009 - 3:50pm
HERWriter Guide

Thank you Lauren.

My only disagreement on something is that we would not allow our 16 year olds to be in a "serious, long-term relationship" no matter how mature they were, or thought they were. A serious, long term relationship they may have when they are grown adults. Our rules are for both boys and girls. There should be no difference in any kind of rules or regulations based on sex. Our son will be instructed on the deep consequences of teen fatherhood and disease just like our daughters! Too often we focus on girls, when we need to focus on both sexes equally, to make it work.

We have already done very basic sex education with our kids and the oldest is five. Sound crazy? I don't think so. Starting early takes away stigma, embarrassment and keeps the lines of communication open, like you said.

I agree that realism and practicality is so important in parenting, although parents still need to remain true to their beliefs. One would hope that a good combination of all these factors would allow young people to keep safe, healthy and unpregnant!

Thanks for your share!

March 13, 2009 - 2:00pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Susan Cody)

If you set a good example of how relationships work and you and your spouse show love toward each other and your children they will be well aware of what love is and what a good relationship is. There is no such thing as "allowing" your kids to have a serious relationship, sometimes it just happens. My husband and I met in high school I was 15 and he 16 (both virgins), we weren't looking for love or marriage at those ages but it happened. Probably because we became great friends while we were dating before anything else. Our parents and families examples taught us what love is. We have been together 23 years (never broke up) and got married while in college. We both have advanced degrees and 3 beautiful kids, one is 15 years old. Our kids know our morals and values and see an awesome example of respect and love in our home. They would not settle for anything else. If my kids find a wonderful person as teens to grow up with and love forever we won't mind a bit because there is nothing better then living a life with your best friend! America is one of the only countries that wants their kids to "explore and experience" (sexually) that's why we have so many relationship problems people have too much baggage from previous encounters!!

December 3, 2010 - 2:16pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.