Even though the copper intrauterine device (IUD) — a long-lasting, hormone-free form of birth control — is the most effective form of emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy after an unprotected sexual encounter, doctors typically don’t mention it to their patients.
When most women choose to take emergency contraception, they opt for what is commonly down as “Plan B,” a pill that acts much like daily birth control pills do to prevent ovulation and fertilization. Plan B is safe and effective, and leading physicians’ groups are calling for the Obama administration to change their current policy and make it available over the counter to young women of all ages. But copper IUDs are even more effective than the morning after pill.
Unfortunately, the fact that 85 percent of doctors never recommend copper IUDs as a form of emergency contraception falls in line with broader trends. Even though both copper and hormonal IUDs are the most effective type of birth control currently available — and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology now encourages doctors to give them to their young female patients — lingering stigma surrounding IUDs still prevents doctors from talking about them and women from using them. Despite all evidence to the contrary, parents still remain largely uncomfortable with the idea of doctors offering IUDs to their daughters.
The most effective forms of birth control are slowly gaining ground. IUD use in the U.S. jumped from 0.8 percent in 1995 to 5.6 percent a decade later. And IUDs — which can cost women as much as a thousand dollars upon insertion — are now covered under Obamacare, which could encourage more widespread use by eliminating potential cost prohibitions. But the education process is slow, and doctors may need to do more to make sure they’re effectively conveying their patients’ full range of contraceptive options.
(HT: RH Reality Check)