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Doctors OK long-acting birth control for teenagers

Campus Health Services offers IUDs, and more than 300 UNC students got an IUD last year, said Dr. Mary Schlegel, director for Women’s Health Services at Campus Health.

Dr. Schlegel said insurance covers an IUD for most students and there is no co-pay. She said Campus Health also works with students to find an in-network provider so anyone can have access.

Advocates of reproductive rights say although the AAP endorsement is a positive step, there is still more to be done.

“While we think this is good, it really isn’t a comprehensive solution to the issue,” said sophomore Martha Isaacs, co-chairwoman of Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ).

Cara Schumann, the other co-chairwoman of SURJ, said providing effective birth control is a matter of making sure people are informed.

“Insurance covers it,” Schumann said. “It’s a long-term solution, and the procedure probably isn’t as bad as people think.”

Although IUDs are an option at Campus Health, Isaacs said there is not much conversation about them and it’s hard to find information about them on the Campus Health website.

“If (the AAP) is saying that they are (more effective), then I think it’s UNC’s responsibility to, A, provide that for students, and, B, provide that in a way that people know about it,” she said.

Dr. Schlegel also noted the lack of awareness surrounding the safety of IUDs. She addressed the reputation IUDs have for causing infertility or infection. She said these are concerns associated with the past design of IUDs and that they are now safe.

Dr. Michael Fried, a physician at Chapel Hill Obstetrics and Gynecology, said his practice tends to be very pro-IUD, but they are not the best option for everyone. The pill can help with hormone regulation for women who suffer from menstrual migraines or other hormonal issues.

Both doctors attributed much of the effectiveness of IUDs to the fact that users do not have to remember to take it every day like they do with the pill. They did, however, emphasize that IUDs do nothing to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Dr. Fried said the biggest concern with IUDs is the risk of uterine perforation during the insertion process, but he estimated this only occurs in one to two percent of patients.

Despite these remaining questions, advocates agree that IUDs are a good alternative to the pill for college students.

“We’re busy, and taking something every day at the same time is difficult to remember,” Schumann said. “Life is kind of hectic, and you know, our sexual experiences tend to be hectic.”

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