Photographed by Jessica Nash.
As far as birth control goes, the more convenient, the better. But, despite the effectiveness and efficiency of intrauterine devices (IUDs), they haven't been all that popular in the U.S. Today, however, they got a major endorsement for use among younger women.
The American Academy of Pediatrics announced that it's endorsing long-acting, reversible forms of birth control (including IUDs and the progestin implant) as the "first-line" choice for adolescents. According to the academy's report, the recommendation stems from the fact that the IUD and implants are some of the most effective methods of birth control (unintended pregnancy rates are similar to those resulting from sterilization), their efficacy doesn't rely on the user (you don't have to remember to take a pill every day), and they're relatively safe. That goes for both the hormonal and copper varieties.
However, despite the IUD's effectiveness, it hasn't taken off stateside the way it has elsewhere. In Europe and China, the IUD is popular for all the reasons today's endorsement names — it's generally safe, effective, and foolproof. And, of course, there's the time-frame bonus: Once it's inserted, a hormonal IUD lasts for up to five years, the copper variation 10 to 12 years, and the implant up to three years.
But, that doesn't mean there aren't issues with IUDs. Like all forms of birth control, there's a risk of unpleasant side effects, and it's hard to ignore the horror stories. In particular, the report warns that expulsion of the device (which occurs in about 5% of users) may be slightly more common in adolescents. But, even in teens, the report states that continuation rates for IUDs and implants are the best of all hormonal birth-control methods. This means that those who opt for them are very likely to still be using them a year later. So, even though they may not be for everyone, it looks like more of us might want to consider making the commitment.