The good news: teen pregnancy rates have declined to historic lows in the United States in recent years. The bad news: the U.S. rate is still the highest in the developed world and childbearing by teenagers remains concerning.
Research reveals that the reason for this decline is increased use of contraceptives, and especially, of effective contraceptives. The rate of sexual activity among teens had not changed significantly, nor have they been having more abortions. The number and rate of abortions tallied by federal authorities have fallen to their lowest level in decades among all age groups, particularly among teenagers. Teenagers have, however, been using contraceptives more often and using more effective birth-control methods, such as IUDs, implants, and the pill.
Clearly, though, much more can be done to reduce the misfortune of teenage pregnancy, in particular, and unintended pregnancies, in general.
One reason for optimism is the increased usage of long-acting, reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal contraceptive implants. Along with the pill, injections, and sterilizations, LARCs are considered highly effective contraceptives with effectiveness rates of over 99 percent when used properly. However, unlike the pill and injections, they do not depend upon the consistency of the user. In typical usage, the pill’s effectiveness rate drops to only 91 percent.
LARCs, which are less obtrusive, less expensive than most other methods and require no further intervention from women, have the potential to decrease significantly the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States, especially among younger users. The proportion of American women using LARCs, mostly IUDs, has risen five-fold between 2003 and 2013.
You can find further information about teenage pregnancy rates and the effectiveness of different contraceptive methods at CAPS Pop Facts page.