Should You Put Your Teenage Daughter on the Pill?

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

What do you do when your teenage daughter comes to you and asks to go on the pill or if you think she may be sexually active (or close to it) and you want to make sure she is protected from making a mistake that will impact the rest of her life? Do you give in? Do you think it is a good idea? Do you say no way?

Teen Pregnancy Rates

Over the past several decades, the teen pregnancy rate has dropped. Right now it is the lowest it has been since 1976. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the teenage pregnancy rate dropped by a whopping 40 percent between 1990 and 2008. That is good news, but even so, in 2010, 376,678 children were born to teens between the ages of 15 and 19 years old in the United States. [1]

The drop in teen pregnancies can be attributed to a number of factors, according to Slate Magazine. For one, sex education in schools has come a long way. Even so, there are a number of localities around the country that still teach abstinence only and even in those areas, the teen pregnancy rate was down so this doesn't fully explain the drop. Another factor is that, according to federal surveys, teen girls aren't rushing into sex as much as in previous years. In 1995, 49 percent of teens indicated they were still virgins but in 2010 this number increased to 57 percent. Again, a positive step but not enough to explain a 40 percent drop in teen pregnancies.

The biggest change may be the advancement and accessibility of hormonal birth control. Condoms, the traditional choice of birth control for teens isn't always reliable and, they have to be used to provide any protection from an unplanned pregnancy. Many teens find condoms difficult to use or girls may be afraid to ask their partner to use one, even more afraid to insist upon it. So, too often, condoms go unused. But over the past decades, the use of the pill has increased, with 50 percent more teens filling prescriptions for birth control pills in 2009 than had in 2002. [2]

Talking to Your Daughter

No matter what the statistics say, it is a difficult moment when your teen daughter wants to go on the pill. Is she admitting to having sex? Does she want to have sex? If I say yes, am I giving her permission to be sexually active?

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of whether your teen should go on birth control pills. But the question itself does signal a need to have a conversation with your daughter - no matter what your decision. The topic of sex is much more open than it was back in the 1970s. And you only need to flip through the cable channels to find scenes on television you don't feel comfortable watching with your children in the room. The internet has also opened up a whole new world, and library of information that teens can access at any time. But that doesn't mean what your teens are hearing, seeing or reading is accurate. Some of the misconceptions about pregnancy your daughter may think are facts:

  • You can't get pregnant if you are having your period

  • You can't get pregnant if your partner doesn't ejaculate inside you

  • You can shower right after sex to avoid getting pregnant

  • You can't get pregnant the first time you have sex

If you want to be sure your daughter has accurate information, then it needs to come from you. Sex education in school only goes so far and even then, your locality may teach only abstinence. It is up to you, as the parent, to provide medically accurate information. The discussion may be hard or uncomfortable, but even so, you want your daughter to make good decisions and that requires having the right information.

Asking the Right Questions

Before you get yourself twisted in knots over the prospect of your daughter going on the pill, find out why she wants to. According to NBCNews, 1 in 3 teens go on the pill for reasons other than to prevent pregnancy. The pill is used to regulate menstrual cycles, it can help prevent extreme cramping or severe PMS. It can help prevent migraines and clear up acne. And teens are using it for all of these reasons. Your daughter may not be sexually active and may have no desire to become sexually active, but she may be having some other health issues that should be addressed - and might be solved by the pill.

Of course, there is also the possibility that your daughter does want the pill to prevent pregnancy. Maybe she is in a serious relationship and hasn't had sex yet but wants to be prepared. Maybe a friend at school recently became pregnant or already has a child and your daughter doesn't want to end up as a teen mom. In this case, your daughter is trying to be responsible.

But you won't understand your daughter's request unless you ask the questions. Use her request as an opportunity to start, or continue, a discussion about safe sex, the benefits of waiting, the emotional ramifications of a sexual relationship and birth control.

The Final Decision

In the end, you, as the parents, must do what you feel is best. If you believe in abstinence, then that is what you should explain to your daughter. But many experts agree that if your teen daughter is thinking about or ready to have sex, there isn't much you can do to stop her.

For many parents, agreeing with the pill is like giving your daughter the key to a forbidden door and telling her to go ahead, open it. But other parents disagree, saying they are accepting that the chances of having sex as a teen are high and can happen even if your daughter doesn't plan it. Being prepared or taking the stance "better safe than sorry," drives some parents to agree to birth control pills.

There is no "one size fits all" answer to the question of whether you should put your teenage daughter on birth control. Each family must make their own decision.


"1 in 3 Teens Go on Pill for Non-Contraceptive Reasons," 2011, Nov 16, Rita Rubin,

[2] "More U.S. Teens Using Birth Control Pills," 2011, Mar. 31, Reuters via The Huffington Post

[1] "Teen Births," Updated 2012, Sept 14, Staff Writer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rates at an All-time Low Across all Ethnicities," 2012, Apr. 10, Michelle Castillo,

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.