Lets lower the teen pregnancy rate for kids in foster care
An intelligent guide to birth control for girls in foster care.
71% of women who have been in foster care are pregnant by the age of 21.
I am a twenty-one-year-old woman who is passionate about lowering the high rates of adolescent pregnancies in women who were children in foster care. 71% of young women in foster care in the United States care are pregnant by 21. They are almost 40 % more prone to pregnancy at a young age than their peers who have not been in the foster care system.
I believe we can lower this number through education on birth control options available in Virginia. Quality sexual health and birth control education would give these young women the knowledge they need to avoid unintended pregnancies. This would allow these young adults to become more stable before deciding to have a child. Here is my intelligent guide to birth control, please read on to learn more about the multitude of options, we have for preventing pregnancy today.
We will start with the cheapest methods and work our way up to the most expensive options. However, it is essential to remember that price is also affected by what your insurance covers.
Please also read on, if you are a foster parent or are becoming a foster care parent or foster parents, so you can learn how to help your foster child learn how to practice safe sex. It is important to remeber that kids in foster care frequently endured some type of trauma from their biological families, and this may have affected their relationship with sex and their bodies.
Foster children are more prone to unsafe sex practices, and therefore the consequences of unsafe sex. Learning about trauma and informed care, in all areas is essential in foster parent training and the process to becoming a foster parent.
The most effective and cheapest method (it's free) is abstinence. No sex = no STDs/ and no unwanted pregnancies. This is the only 100% effective. However, I understand that this may not be the preferred method for the majority.
Fertility Awareness or Natural Family Planning
The following method is much less effective than abstinence but is still free. It is called Fertility Awareness or Natural Family Planning. If using this method for pregnancy prevention, a woman must track her monthly cycle from her period to ovulation to determine when she is least likely to get pregnant.
When used correctly, this can prevent pregnancy 76% of the time. Even if this method is executed perfectly, there is still a wide margin for error, or in this case, pregnancy.
The Withdrawl Method
The following method can be even more unsafe than the last. Unfortunately, it is also a prevalent one: the withdrawal method, more typically referred to as "pulling out." It can only prevent pregnancy 73% of the time, even if you do it correctly every time.
The penis must be pulled out of the vagina before ejaculation and released away from the genitalia. Even then, sperm can still exist in the pre-cum, hence the almost 30% chance of welcoming a baby into your life.
Look at it this way you have a higher than 1/4 chance of unintended pregnancy. If you have sex four times using this method, you'll probably end up being impregnated from one of the times. Even Planned parenthood recommends using a condom while practicing this method to protect against Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and lower the chance of pregnancy.
Condoms, in my opinion, should be used at all times, even when using other forms of birth control. It helps protect against STDs, such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or Syphilis, which can be carried and transferred in sexual fluids; condoms also lower the chance of pregnancy.
There are both male and female condoms; male condoms have 82% efficiency, and female condoms have a 79% efficiency rate.
One of the biggest pros of condoms is that they are a cheaper, more practical option for birth control. However, some people can develop allergies to certain types of condoms, such as latex condoms, the most effective type.
Condoms can also break or tear, or expire: it is important to remember to check their expiration date and ensure they are stored in cool areas without friction.
One of the most prominent complaints people use to object to condoms is that some people claim it lowers their sensitivity.
However, without condoms, you are at a massive risk of an unwanted pregnancy or an STD. If you are not using condoms, always make sure you are using another effective method of birth control.
The next option is the contraceptive sponge. The contraceptive plastic sponge is saturated with spermicide that is fitted into the vaginal to block and kill sperm. This birth control is about 76% to 88% effective and costs about $5.
There are pros to this method, as it can be left in for multiple sexual acts in 24 hours. However, this method has an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome.
Toxic shock syndrome is a sudden, potentially fatal condition. It's caused by releasing toxins from an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. It is also possible to develop a sensitivity or allergic reaction to spermicide.
Another option is a hormonal shot. This shot is an injection of progesterone, which stops the ovaries from releasing the eggs and thickens the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and fertilize the eggs. If you choose this option, the shot is administered every 90 days and costs up to $20 for every shot. However, depending on your insurance company, the cost can also be lower or higher.
It is 98% effective and low maintenance, as you only have to remember to go in to get the shot. Sadly, a multitude of users report the hormonal shot having some effect on their menstrual cycle and other aspects of their health, including nausea, headaches, and depression.
These side effects are more likely to occur if you smoke, and you may be unable to conceive for up to a year after you stop taking the shot. So, if you are at a time when you are considering starting a family, please be aware that this option requires a bit more time between ending birth control and getting pregnant. Some studies have also linked this shot to a loss of bone density (which may be temporary), which may lead to osteoporosis.
The Birth Control Pill
The next type of pregnancy prevention is one of the most common types: the birth control pill. There are two main types of pills used. The first is a combined hormonal pill, a mix between estrogen and progestin, and the second is the hormonal pill, which solely uses progestin. Both versions are about 91% effective and cost about $50 per month (greater or less depending on insurance).
Research has suggested that both forms slightly reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers. However, research has also suggested they may raise the risk of breast, cervical, and liver cancers slightly. As always, this is also affected by genetics and other factors.
This is quite a neutral birth control option as the pill can reduce some period symptoms (heavy bleeding+ excruciating cramps) but can increase some effects like breast tenderness. One major factor that makes this option ineffective for some is that the daily dose must be taken at the same time every day to reach full effectiveness; for women who are not prepared to do this, this is not the best option.
The Patch is the next possible pregnancy protection: a flat patch can be placed on the skin, releasing estrogen and progestin. These patches are short-term. You must replace these patches about every three weeks with a week off so you can have your period.
These are 92% effective and cost up to $50 (based on insurance. You may experience mild side effects, these typically include nausea, headaches, and breast tenderness; the likelihood of this again increases if you smoke.
Now we come to some of the options referenced above, which have similar cons to the contraceptive sponge. The first is the cervical cap, a soft, flexible device filled with spermicide that fits over the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. It costs up to about $75 and is 80% effective.
This could be an option for someone who doesn't wish to have hormonal birth control; however, as with the sponge, the risk of toxic syndrome increases. Potentially developing a sensitivity or allergic reaction to the spermicide is also possible. The only difference in the cons from the sponge is that it should be left in for 4 hours after sex rather than 6.
Then there is the diaphragm, which costs up to about $80 and is 88% effective; it is a soft, flexible disk that blocks the cervix. It is good because, like the cap, it is not hormonal, and this can be left in for multiple uses in 24 hours as long as you insert more spermicide every 6 hours. However, it has all the same cons as the sponge, with the bonus of increased risk of urinary tract infections.
If you are going to spend up to $80 on contraception, the vaginal ring is another option. The vaginal ring is a flexible ring about 2 inches wide that you place in your vagina. It is left there for about three weeks and then removed for a week to have a period, similar to the Patch but internal.
It also releases progestin and estrogen and has a 92% efficiency. It is relatively low maintenance, and you may potentially have lighter periods and premenstrual effects. However, it is possible to experience some breast tenderness and headaches.
Now the next option: the implant, if not covered by health insurance, can get rather expensive as it can be up to $800 to be put in your arm and $300 to be removed.
To account for the high cost, the implant is 99% effective. It is a longer-term solution as it can last up to 3 years, though doctors can remove it anytime. It is a hormonal option that, like all, has the potential to risk messing up your cycle, which can lead to no bleeding at all or continual bleeding. Furthermore, you also can experience side effects of breast tenderness, acne, and weight gain.
Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
Next up are the Intrauterine Devices (IUD): There are two main types of IUDs Copper and Hormonal. The copper coil costs up to $800; it is 99% effective and can be left for up to 10 years.
The cons are that random spotting can occur during early use, and there can be more substantial PMS effects. You should also note that this is not your best option if you have bad cramps, as it can worsen cramps. If you do have terrible cramps, the hormonal IUD can help relieve some of that pain.
The hormonal IUD costs up to $800, but it is 99% effective and can be used for 3 to 5 years. On top of helping with cramps, there is also the possibility of stopping your period altogether. However, there can be some severe cramping when it is first inserted. It may also cause pain during intercourse, but this will vary per person.
On the other hand, Vasectomy is just as effective as the hormonal IUD for women. If your partner doesn't want to use a condom or other forms of birth control, offer this as a friendly alternative for them. Their tubes can be cut and sealed so no sperm can be ejaculated. Please note that this should be seen as a permanent birth control option, as while doctors can reverse it, there can be quite a high risk of it staying permanent.
Finally, we come to the last option, the Plan B or the morning-after pill. This should not be used as a regular contraceptive and is more of an emergency contraceptive if you believe your first form of prevention failed. It costs up to about $80, and how long you have until you use it varies depending on the type, but it is always more effective the sooner you take it.
There are two main types of the morning-after pill: Levonorgestrel, which is 98% effective up to 72 hours after having intercourse, and Ulipristal acetate: which is 98% effective for up to 5 days after. Both can cause brief episodes of nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, and fatigue. Your period could also be irregular for a cycle or two.
Practice safe sex, always.
If you are a woman who has previously been in foster care reading this, please remember how important it is to practice safe sex. You want to be prepared for having a child. It is important to make sure all future birth families are prepared for the children they welcome into their lives, to prevent more kids from ending up in foster placements, group homes, with treatment foster care parents or other forms of respite care for the benefit of the child's life and the child's welfare.