Teen Guide to Birth Control

birth control cover

Teen Guide to Birth Control

Another teen guide-to-life book. We have prolific health writer Alan Nourse again instructing the kids on various methods of birth control. For 1988, this isn’t a bad choice. His writing is pretty plain-spoken and doesn’t get bogged down in judgments, unlike a lot of publications, both older and newer. The info is mostly focused on the female perspective. It’s pretty clear that if a woman wants to avoid pregnancy, it is up to her. Boys seem incidental to the conversation.

It is really important to make sure that these materials are reviewed in a timely manner. Note the contraceptive sponge on the chapter on barrier methods. I know they went off the market for a time in the mid-1990s and have recently returned. (I am not really clear about exact dates.) Again, this material has a limited shelf life. Make sure you get in there and weed your medical information books.

Also, what’s with that weird font on the cover?


what is birth control

personal stories

barrier methods

the Pill



  1. If the library literally has no other books on the topic, this one would still do.

    For 1988, it was excellent.

    Maybe the title font is shaking with excitement or fear about teen sex?

    1. Except that it doesn’t include IUD, patch or any other stuff that has come out since 1988. Poor Beth’s options are either keep having babies, get her tube tied or stop having sex altogether. A patron would be better off going to the library and googling “options for birth control” then using this book.

      1. Yes it does; the glossary includes it (under “intrauterine device”) so I am pretty sure there is a chapter on it. Things that _are_ post-1988, including changes in the law(s), won’t be though.

  2. Are “sponges” even still a thing????

    Wasn’t there a whole episode about this on “Seinfeld”?

    1. Yep! Sponges are Elaine’s favorite contraceptive, and when they’re taken off the market, she has 60 left and decides her new boyfriend isn’t “spongeworthy” enough to have sex twice with.

  3. I think Donna needs to be taught that she doesn’t have to have sex with Eddie just because he wants to. Also, how old is Eddie? “Here, have some birth control” is not, IMO, a great answer to a fourteen-year-old having sex with some guy solely because he wants to.

    As for Beth, who’s had one baby and one abortion by age 17 – did medical professionals in the ‘80s really just let a teenage girl leave a maternity ward/abortion clinic without talking to her about contraception?

    1. No, no they did not. She would have been informed about available methods after both the birth and the abortion. We must therefore presume Beth wasn’t listening or isn’t very bright, or both.

    2. And what doctor would be allowed to tie a 17-year-old’s tubes, even if she’s already had one baby and one abortion? There are women in their 20s who are 100% positive that they never want kids, but get denied because “you’re young, you’ll change your mind.”

      1. Considering the history of doctors wanting to sterilize “promiscuous” minority women and girls, this doesn’t seem completely outrageous to me, though it does seem unlikely.

  4. I would save the cover. Something about the couple illustrated on it (not the poster) just seems normal and not staged or stilted.

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