Teen pregnancy rates decline, effectiveness of contraceptives vary among women

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Teen birth rates are at an all time low, but still remain a struggle in South Carolina.

The most recent data shows South Carolina as the state with the 11th highest teen birth rate in the country, according to the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

With an almost 50 percent decline in the last 20 years, experts say we still have a long way to go.

Tonya McKenzie, Nurse Practitioner at CCU, says numbers are still high in the Pee Dee area.

Marion County's teen birth rate is more than 50 percent higher than the national teen birth rate. Following is Florence County, and Horry with the lowest rates in our area.

More than half of high school students in South Carolina say they have had sex, and 98% of pregnant 15 to 17-year-olds say it was unintended, urging medical experts to promote education.

"Education is key to help battling teenage pregnancy- get educated, my thing is to be educated about the form of contraception you want to use and make sure you know how to use it and if you have questions, ask someone," says McKenzie.

The director of the SC Campaign to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy says the rates have declined because more teens today are abstaining or using contraceptives.

Overall, the U.S. pregnancy rate has fallen over the last decade, with the exception of women over 30, who's pregnancy rate steadily increases each year.

The morning after pill is a pregnancy prevention method but a recent study proves it may not be the best "Plan B," finding it may be ineffective for women who fit in that category.

About six million women used emergency contraceptive pills between 2006 and 2010 and researchers say that number is on the rise.

However, if you weigh 176 pounds or more- a recent study finds the morning after pill ineffective.

European company, HPA Pharma manufactures a contraceptive identical to Plan B one-step, commonly used in the US.

The company says for full effectiveness of the drug, you must weigh below 165 pounds.

"They think its because it takes longer for that pill to travel in a person that's obese compared to a person that's normal weight, and that could be an issue," says McKenzie. "They're also looking at the different receptors in the fat cells that people have that may contribute to that."

The average American woman 20 years and older is about 166 pounds.

Doctors recommend women who weigh more consider alternative methods such as an IUD.

Plan B one-step is now available over the counter to women of all ages, but the pill does not come with a warning label about weight.

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