More Teens Turning to Long-Term Contraception

Long-acting reversible contraception use increased in teens

One demographic may be increasingly relying on long-term contraceptives, but you might be surprised by which one.

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenagers began using long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) far more often between 2005 and 2013 than before. The rate of teens seeking such services at Title X sites increased from 0.4 percent in 2005 to 7.1 percent in 2013. Title X programs target low-income adults and teens.

Usage remains low in absolute terms, but the study noted that efforts to improve access to LARC in local communities appear to be having an effect.

The CDC's study comes on the heels of a 2014 recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatricians, which said LARC like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants were the most effective tactic for preventing teen pregnancies. The major trouble has been ensuring that health care workers fully inform young women about all of their options, these researchers noted.

Another study by Dr. Gina Secura, an epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, noted that improved awareness could change many people's decisions. Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, this study found that 72 percent of patients chose long-acting contraception when they were fully informed about each of their options (and those options' effectiveness).

At present, most teens turn to condoms and/or the pill for birth control, according to the CDC.

It remains to be seen how much that will change, but the CDC's findings indicate that it's indeed changing at a fairly rapid rate.

Planned Parenthood describes IUDs as "one of the most effective forms of preventing unintended pregnancies and are especially safe for teenagers, according to research by a top doctors group." The website cites a study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that assessed 90,000 IUD users between the ages of 14 and 44. Less than 1 percent of the patients had complications.

Speak to your doctor about the risks and benefits of different birth control methods.

The CDC study was published online April 7 in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.