As an increasing percentage of adolescents reach their sexual debut at younger ages, effective contraceptive methods, which will decrease the risks of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), become even more critical. Contraceptive methods which are less 'compliance-dependent', such as the implantable subdermal levonorgestrel and the injectable depot formulation of medroxyprogesterone acetate, are popular in adolescents but careful counseling before method selection and on-going counseling when side-effects are experienced are necessary and essential. The use of condoms to decrease the risks of STDs will continue to be important for adolescents, and it remains to be seen what impact the long-term methods will have on effective condom use. Adolescents' access to abortions when contraceptive methods fail, or when no method is used, is being challenged with state laws which mandate parental notification or permission. A greater knowledge about the option of emergency contraception could potentially lead to increased use of this method, particularly when the option of medications such as RU486 becomes available. The potential for a reduction in unintended pregnancies in adolescents, and a reduced need for abortions is a welcome prospect.
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