The statistics below are from Teen Clinic, BVWHC in 2010. This chart includes each patient’s method at the last visit to clinic, regardless of visit frequency.
The most frequently reported method is oral contraceptives (“the Pill”). This popularity may be due to several factors: one is the simplicity and convenience of taking a pill (as opposed to many of the other methods which involve needles or awkward devices), and of starting, stopping, and changing from one kind of pill to another. Another is the wide variety of formulations that are now available, allowing a woman to experiment with one or two different hormone dosages before settling on the one that works best for her. Another possible advantage is the ability to limit the number of menstrual cycles: this is particularly useful for women who experience painful or heavy menses and so choose to menstruate as little as four times per year. But even for those women with “normal” menses, limiting the frequency can be purely elective with no detrimental side effects, although some women see having a regular period as a reassurance that they are not pregnant.
The second most often reported method is the male condom. Since these statistics represent only patients who visited the clinic, and because the condom is widely available over the counter, the actual number of teens using condoms as their primary form of birth control is probably higher. The male condom has the extra appeal that it is the only form of birth control that also offers protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The Depo-Provera injection, administered 4 times a year, has at least two aspects to its appeal: infrequent visit to clinic as well as confidentiality.