IUDs: Why They Are OK for Teens
Originally Published: February 28, 2012
Revised: July 29, 2016
The answer is clear: teens should be encouraged to use intrauterine devices (IUDs). An IUD is an object made of copper or plastic typically in the shape of a “T” that is placed in the uterus by a health care provider to prevent pregnancies. IUDs are highly effective at preventing pregnancy (a condom should still be worn during oral, vaginal and anal sex to ensure protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)) and can be less expensive in the long run, which makes them an ideal choice for teens.
IUDs were linked to pelvic inflammatory disease PID and infertility in the past, which is why they had such a bad reputation. You may be thinking, I don’t want an object inserted in my body if it’s been linked to a disease, even if it was in the past. Well, let’s debunk some of the myths.
As teens, we tend to forget things occasionally. With an IUD, there’s no daily pill to take…or forget to take.
The risk of contracting PID has been a major concern when deciding whether or not to use an IUD. This was partially due to the fact that, in the 1970s, an IUD known by the brand name Dalkon Shield was linked to infection, among other things. The Dalkon Shield was taken off the market, though, and today’s IUDs do not pose the same risks.
PID can develop from bacteria in the vagina (either naturally or from an STD, and there is a small possibility that this bacteria may enter the uterus when an IUD is implanted. Women who get IUDs are slightly more susceptible to contracting PID in the first few weeks following the insertion.
Until recently, doctors would usually recommend IUDs to women who had already given birth. However, both women who have given birth and those who haven’t can use IUDs. Many of the concerns about IUDs are related to risks from decades ago, before IUDs and other medical devices had to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and before the FDA approved an IUD for use in women who have not given birth.
There are many reasons why IUDs are a good option for teens. One, they’re over 99-percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Two, once they’re inserted, they’re effective for 3 to 12 years, depending on what brand you get. Three, they’re cost-effective. IUDs cost between $50 and $950, and insurance may cover some, if not all, of this cost. Although the cost of IUDs can be high, they are one of the more affordable birth control options because they last for so long—you don’t have to keep paying more each month.
Right now, only a small number of teens decide to use IUDs as their birth control choice (although that number has been growing). But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed them for healthy women, including teenagers, and in 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended them for teens. Although some may experience pain or discomfort during and soon after insertion of an IUD, there is medication to soothe that pain, and these symptoms typically go away as your body adjusts to the IUD.
As teens, we tend to forget things occasionally. With an IUD, there’s no daily pill to take…or forget to take. IUDs help teens live their lives without having to constantly think about pregnancy or keep up with oral contraceptives. As IUDs gain popularity, hopefully more teens will be aware of their benefits and how practical they can be.
Of course, IUDs are a matter of personal preference. There are other forms of contraception that may be a better fit for you. Although IUDs don’t prevent STDs (using condoms protects you against most), they prevent pregnancy, which is a big concern for teens. Teens should embrace the various forms of birth control that are available, and feel comfortable using IUDs, which have been shown to be safe and effective.
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