Expert Offers Recommendations for Adolescent Birth Control

IUDs and hormonal implants may be good options for contraception in adolescents though many are not aware of them as choices, according to experts at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

The reputation of IUDs after the Dalkon Shield, and bad press related to the implantable device Norplant, had providers hesitating to use them in adolescent patients. But today’s copper and hormonal IUDs, and Implanon, an implantable contraceptive rod approved for use in the U.S. in 2003, are appropriate and effective birth control methods for teens – even those who have never been pregnant.

“Of course, I encourage all of my patients to use condoms with every instance of intercourse because they are not only an effective way to prevent pregnancy, but they also prevent transmission of many sexually transmitted infections,” said Mandy Coles, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at URMC. “However, I am a big fan of long-acting reversible contraception – IUDs and Implanon – for teens as a primary form of contraception. It can be hard to remember to do something every day, or every week, or even every few months, let alone remembering to do something with every act of sex.”

Studies have found that fears of increased risks of infections and subsequent infertility are unfounded with the IUDs currently on the market. Once inserted, it remains more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Though the can be removed at any point, the hormonal IUD (Mirena) lasts for up to 5 years, and the copper IUD (Paragard) lasts for up to 10 years.

Implanon lasts for up to three years, is quickly implanted and virtually painless. Approved for use in teens it is also more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy for up to three years and can be removed at any point.

Coles recommends that teens talk with their providers to get accurate information and make the best decisions about birth control.

“I believe that the birth control method which will work best for a teen is what she wants to use – not what her mother or boyfriend or friends want her to use,” Coles said.

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