May is Teen Pregnancy Awareness Month, and since 2000 our state has seen its teen birth rate fall nearly 50 percent for teens age 15 to 17.
A lot of factors contribute to the drop in teenage parenthood in New Mexico, like expanded access through Medicaid and improvement in birth control.
Dr. Wanicha Burapa is the medical director for the Department of Health’s Family Planning Program. She said the best pregnancy prevention for sexually active teens is long-acting reversible contraception that doesn’t rely on the user. "It is what we could call a ‘forgettable method.’ It is generally safe for a variety of users, including teens," she said. "Implants are the most effective contraception in the market at this time. It’s more effective than sterilization."
Burapa says these intrauterine devices or implants that go under the skin each have their pros and cons. Women who are uninsured or who have low incomes can find long-term contraception cheap or free in New Mexico.
Despite the progress, New Mexico is still among the worst in the country when it comes to teen birth rates. "We’re still higher than many states in the nation because we started at a high level, but we’re very pleased that there has been some progress," said the Health Department's Susan Lovett.
Find a clinic here that can provide inexpensive or free birth control. Or text your sexual health questions to 66746 and get a response from the Department of Health within 24 hours.