Every year, there are approximately 750,000 teenage pregnancies in the United States. Of those, a whopping 80 percent are typically unintended. That means there is a big gap between the birth control needed, and the birth control teens are receiving. Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics just announced that it is supporting IUDs and implants as the first choice for contraceptive use in teens.
Unlike condoms or the birth control pill, which need to be used on a consistent basis to be effective, an implant or IUD can remain effective for many months once inserted. That means that for a forgetful teen, an IUD or implant could be a better choice, since it's easy to miss pills, which renders birth control pills far less effective.
The American Academy of Pediatrics published these new guidelines in the September 29 issue of the journal Pediatrics.
"I'm happy to see that every major medical or public health organization in the United States agree that IUDs and implants should be the 'default' first-line contraceptive methods for all women and girls who want them," said Dr. David Eisenberg, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis.
Both an IUD and an implant work by releasing small amounts of the hormone progestin consistently into the woman's body. IUDs are placed in the uterus and implants are inserted into the arm.
IUDs and implants can work in the long term, lasting for as many as three to ten years.
A previous study in 2012 found that IUDs and implants were the most effective form of birth control, 20 times more effective than other methods like the pill or the patch.
"IUDs and implants are more effective because women can forget about them after clinicians put the devices in place," said Jeffrey Peipert, who authored the 2012 study.
In comparison, birth control pills must be taken daily and women need to get refills on a regular basis.
IUDs and implants fail less than 1 percent of the time, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unintended pregnancies from IUDs fall between 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent, while approximately 0.05 percent of women using an implant will become pregnant.
This is compelling evidence that doctors should recommend an IUD or an implant for teens seeking access to birth control. IUDs and implants have both been proven to be safe for use in teens.