Despite the fact that unplanned pregnancies among teens have been decreasing at a steady pace since 2012, new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest that long-acting reversible contraception or LARC such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other implants should be considered as a “first-line” option to teens before other contraceptives.
Although condoms and birth control pills are the most common contraceptive choices for most teens, their failure rates have been dubbed higher than that of IUDs, which is a small “T-shaped” device inserted into a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. Even with daily use of the pill, which it is said have a 9 percent failure rate—IUDs also yield better prevention than condoms, which have a failure rate of 18 percent to 21 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. IUDs have a failure rate of only 1 percent.
Another part of the reason the AAP is advising doctors to counsel teens on the advantages of the implants is due to the required daily use of the pill, which some can easily overlook. In contrast, teens who opt for IUD implants need not worry about changing them or about an unplanned pregnancy for a range of three to 10 years, depending on how long they wish to keep it.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report that while there has been a steady decline in teen pregnancy, pregnancy rates among teens in the U.S. is still one of the highest among industrialized countries in the world. The Health Department estimates that in the United States, one in eight females will give birth before her 20th birthday. In 2013, babies born to females, of ages 15-19 were about 26.6 out of 1,000 females compared to the 2012 overall average of 29.4 per 1,000 females.
But regardless of this decline, the CDC reports that teen births among Hispanics and African Americans are still more than two times higher than that of their White counterparts.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that when more than 1,400 teenage girls and women were provided with information about all the birth control choices available to them, 72 percent of them chose IUD or other LARC options.
If prescribed by a doctor, IUDs and hormonal implants could be covered under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise, according to Planned Parenthood, IUDs can costs from $0 to $1,000.
With the topic of sex among teens still a big controversy in the nation, AAP did recognize that the abstinence is the most effective method of preventing pregnant and sexually transmitted infections.