Panel Recommends Low-Maintenance Birth Control for Teens
Doctors should offer adolescent girls highly effective, low-maintenance birth control, says American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, like IUDs and implants. But parents aren't so sure.
By Jaimie Dalessio Clayton
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FRIDAY, Sept. 21, 2012— Doctors should not only offer teens lower maintenance, longer-acting birth control options — like IUDs and hormome implants — but encourage them, says a committee of leading obstetricians and gynecologists.
Sexually active teens neglect the most effective birth control methods, according to new guidelines outlined in a report released Thursday by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). While long-acting reversible contraception has gained popularity (from 2.4 percent of all U.S. women using it in 2002 to 8.5 percent in 2009), the statistics for women 15 to 19 years old show drastically lower usage rates. Roughly 4.9 percent of sexually active women in that age group use long-acting contraceptive methods. The majority of them use IUDs.
Long-acting contraceptives are more effective and have higher continuation rates than short-acting methods like condoms, oral contraceptives, the patch, and the vaginal ring. Intrauterine devices and the contraceptive implants are also, "safe and appropriate contraceptive methods for most women and adolescents," the ACOG paper explains.
Lack of familiarity with long-acting reversible contraception and misperceptions are among the barriers for use that ACOG cites in its report, along with high cost, lack of access, and concern on the part of the healthcare provider. Therefore it recommends that healthcare providers educate all sexually active adolescents about IUDs and implants and that they make such birth control methods more easily accessible to them.
However, parents typically steer their teenage daughters from intrauterine or implantable contraception, preferring birth control methods like condoms or the pill. In a recent study of 261 parents and caregivers of teen girls, published in theJournal of Adolescent Health, adults were less likely to accept doctors offering their daughters long-acting reversible contraception (implants and intrauterine devices, or IUDs) than birth control pills and condoms.
In thatJournal of Adolescent Healthstudy, implants and IUDs ranked lowest on the acceptability scale for parents, scoring 32 percent and 18 percent, respectively.
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