Very few sexually active teenagers (around 1 percent, according to the National Survey of Family Growth) choose the intrauterine device for birth control. (Among the reasons? They might now know about the IUD or they might feel unsettled by the thought of inserting the slender T-shaped object into their body.) But a new study shows that the contraceptive method provides real benefits to adolescents:
In a paper published this month in the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, lead author Sophia Yen, MD, MPH, a board-certified specialist in adolescent medicine at [Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital], and her co-authors report that more than a dozen studies have shown that teenagers with IUDs were as likely or more likely to continue using them compared with teens using birth-control pills. Furthermore, IUDs can work for as long as five or 10 years, depending on the type; are cost-effective; and are more than 99-percent effective at preventing pregnancy, the authors note.
Yen pointed out that the device has an "undeserved bad reputation both in the public and among physicians," but the IUD has been shown on the whole to be safe. Because the device is also effective and extremely low-maintenance, the researchers concluded that "IUDs are especially well-suited for teenagers."