February 15, 2013 — Parents are more supportive of their teenage daughters using oral contraceptives than any other birth control method, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Medical News Today reports.
Researchers surveyed 261 parents who had daughters ages 12 through 17 about their acceptability of seven different contraceptive methods. The researchers took into account the parents' knowledge of sexually transmitted infections, their own sexual health as teens, the daughters' likelihood to have sex and their parenting beliefs.
Nearly 60% of parents said oral contraception is acceptable for their daughter, compared with 51% who found condoms acceptable, 46% who approved of injectable methods and 45% who said emergency contraception is acceptable. The most effective contraceptive methods -- implants and intrauterine devices -- were deemed acceptable by 32% and 18% of parents, respectively.
The researchers noted that parents who perceived their teen as sexually active were more likely to prefer only EC or condoms, rather than the full range of options. Parents who regularly attended religious services had a lower acceptance of EC. The only predictor of acceptability in each category was parents' recognition of their daughter's independence, the study noted.
Lauren Hartman, lead study author and clinical fellow at the University of California-San Francisco Department of Pediatrics, said she was "surprised" that parents were not more accepting of condom use, given that they are often perceived as less invasive and they are the only method that can protect from STIs. Hartman also noted that parents might be averse to long-acting methods like IUDs because of outdated information and myths about infertility and infection.
The study suggests "[c]onfidential time between the adolescent and clinician" is important to ensure that teens have access to the contraceptive services, Hartman said (Medical News Today, 2/14).
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Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
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