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Birth Control for Teens: What's Recommended?

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Long-acting reversible contraception, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and progestin implants, should be the first choice for teens when it comes to birth control, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For the first time, AAP recommends that pediatricians discuss long-acting, reversible contraception before other birth control methods for teens, citing the "efficacy, safety and ease of use" of LARC.

The organization also recommends that pediatricians encourage using condoms for every sexual act, which reduces the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases.

These guidelines are backed up by a new study which says IUDs and implants could cut pregnancy rates by almost 80 percent in sexually active teens.

Researchers studied 1,404 teenagers who were offered free birth control of their choice. A majority chose LARC, such as IUD or implant.

After three years, their pregnancy rate was 3.4 percent, compared with almost 16 percent in the general sexually active teen population, ABC News reported.

IUDs are small, T-shaped devices which are inserted into the uterus by a doctor. An IUDh can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years with a failure rate of about 0.8 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Implants, which are thin rods inserted under the skin on the upper arm, release progestin and last for about three years, with a failure rate of 0.05 percent.

Both methods require more interaction with doctors than other commonly used birth control methods, such as condoms.

High condom use is partly due to cost and the ease of access. Cost and access to doctors can make it more challenging for teens to use LARC methods, Dr. Mary Ott, an adolescent medicine specialist at Indiana University and lead author of the AAP guidelines acknowledged to the Washington Post.

In addition, Ott told LiveScience.com, IUDs have gotten a bad rap largely due to the case of the Dalkon Shield which was pulled off the market in the 1970s after women who used it developed pelvic infections.

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EmpowHER Guest

I'm disappointed to read this endorsement of the IUD for teens in your women's health website. IUDs are not as safe as manufacturers would like us to believe, especially for teens. Since 2000 the FDA has received over 70,000 complaints against the Mirena® IUD, manufactured by Bayer, the leader of the IUD market. Unintended expulsion of the IUD occurs in 18.8% of women age 14-19. Side-effects of an expulsion include cramping, vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods or after intercourse. Other risks of IUDs include malpositioned IUDs (which means risk of conception), high miscarriage rates for women who do conceive with an IUD, increase risk of ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or even perforation of the uterus. Are we really protecting them?

October 16, 2014 - 7:33pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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