Intrauterine devices (IUDs), the most effective form of birth control, are a safe contraceptive method for teenagers, new research published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists last week confirms.
Examining health insurance claims for more than 90,000 women who had an IUD inserted between 2002 and 2009, the study found serious complications occurred in less than 1 percent of patients, regardless of IUD type or age, and concluded:
The IUD is as appropriate for teenagers to use as it is for older women, with serious complications occurring infrequently in all groups. The levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system may be a better choice than a copper IUD as a result of lower odds of complications, discontinuation, and failure.
IUDs are the most effective long-term birth control available. Although their somewhat higher upfront costs have historically limited women’s awareness and usage of the devices, Obamacare’s no-cost sharing for preventative care is helping fix that problem by eliminating co-pay costs required of patients.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has previously recommended IUDs for sexually active teenagers, arguing that younger women are best suited for long-term contraceptives because the majority of teen pregnancies are unintended. Unfortunately, parental attitudes towards the IUDs have not kept up with medical opinions, with just 18 percent of parents saying they would be comfortable with their teen’s doctor giving them one in a study published earlier this year.
IUDs are not the only reproductive health advance where public perception has gotten in the way of medical science: Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that Plan B (also known as the morning after pill) is safe for teenagers to use without the intervention of a healthcare provider, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius countermanded an order to make it available to people under the age of seventeen without a prescription in 2011.
Last week, a Reagan-appointed federal judge ordered that the FDA remove current age restrictions, pointing out that the Plan B — which is not an abortifacient — is “among the safest drugs sold over the counter.” Despite these developments and support from medical professionals for changing the policy, the Obama administration continues to claim Plan B could be “dangerous” for teen use.