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Use of IUDs and implants on the rise among teens, CDC says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nationally, the use of long-acting reversible contraception — specifically intrauterine devices and implants — jumped from 0.4 percent in 2005 to 7.1 percent in 2013 among teens aged 15 to 19.

The CDC named long-term contraception the most effective type of birth control for teens, with less than 1 percent of users getting pregnant during their first year of use. The report cites its ease and effectiveness as contributing to the increased interest.

Depending on the type, these contraception methods can last anywhere from three to 10 years, said Gretchen Stuart, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine.

“The benefits are that (long-term contraception) is more effective in preventing pregnancy,” Stuart said. “Once it is placed, a woman does not have to remember to do anything else to use it correctly.”

If a woman decides that she wants to become pregnant, Stuart added, she can simply see her doctor and have it removed with no side effects and no delay in pregnancy.

“It’s hard for me to find any disadvantages,” Stuart said.

Martha Isaacs, a member of UNC’s Students United for Reproductive Justice, said one reason why more women have not chosen IUDs and implants as their form of birth control is because they aren’t as accessible as other methods.

“(Long-term birth control) requires a doctor and usually cannot be inserted personally, so this limits users because they have to identify a health care provider and spend the time and money on getting it inserted,” she said.

The CDC survey said common barriers to using long-term birth control included unfounded concerns about safety, high upfront costs and lack of awareness about the method.

“Financial barriers to contraception exist for adolescents who do not have good health insurance, so removing financial barriers to contraception is key,” Stuart said.

The CDC said doctors should discuss this method with patients more often — and Stuart agreed, saying that giving women a wider range of options could prevent more pregnancies.

“One important thing about contraception is that the more options that are available, the greater the use of modern contraception,” she said.

Isaacs said births from unwanted pregnancies cost $12.5 billion in state and federal funds in 2008, citing a report by the Guttmacher Institute.

“There are large costs in this country associated with unintended pregnancy, due to medical costs and related costs,” Isaacs said.

She said women should have equal access to all forms of birth control.

“If Americans cannot access birth control, they will not be able to make fully capable choices regarding their own reproductive independence.”

state@dailytarheel.com

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