IUDs not “The Pill” Best Option for Teens and Young Women

Oct 2, 2012 by

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, IUDS or under-skin implants are 20 times more likely to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Though the pills, patches and rings are very popular with young women, these short acting methods have efficacy issues when compared to the long-acting options such as IUDs.   The study looked at outcomes over three years among 7,500 sexually active women.  What they found was that 9.4% of the pill/ patch group became pregnant accidentally , while the IUD/ implant group had less than 1% that became pregnant during the same time period.   This is significant if truly preventing an unwanted pregnancy is the goal.  The failure rates, or accidental pregnancies, occurred more often in the teens.


What contributes to the disparity is not that birth control pills are not effective, they are and have been contraceptive of choice for 50 years.  What is at issue is that ‘the pill’ is only as effective as the person using it.   Administration has to be consistent, especially with the new lower dose regimens available and it has to be taken daily.   Less room for error with the patches and rings if replaced on time, but again human error can play a role.   Not to say the IUDs are foolproof, though they are designed to be, but 20 times more effective is worth some consideration.


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently updated their guidelines for teens to recommend IUDs and implants as a safe, first- line choice for preventing unwanted pregnancies.  Eventhough this organization has been endorsing IUDs and implants since 2007 for teens, the new guidelines urge physicians to discuss this method with sexually active teens on every visit.     The pills and patches are more popular because they are less invasive, they do not require a doctor visit to have them inserted and are generally less expensive.







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