Friday, March 14th, 2014
Intrauterine devices (IUDs), which are long-term birth control devices that are implanted in a woman’s uterus, have been found to be effective for a longer time than the devices’ makers expected or intended, according to a new review of past studies published in the journal Contraception. More from Reuters:
The older women are when certain IUDs are inserted, the longer they can leave them in, the review found.
IUDs, small plastic or metal devices inserted into the uterus, prevent pregnancy either by killing or damaging sperm or by releasing hormones that thicken the cervical mucus which does not allow sperm to pass. They are the most effective type of reversible birth control, with lower failure rates than the Pill, implants, patches or condoms.
Although recommendations on IUD use have stayed the same for some time, the finding that the devices are effective for longer than advertised is actually old news, Dr. Justine P. Wu told Reuters Health.
She worked on the study at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
“We have had these data in our hands for years,” Wu said. “Our hope is that this review will bolster clinician and patient confidence, both in the United States and worldwide, in the safety and benefits of extending use of certain IUDs beyond the manufacturer-approved time period, among select women.” That includes women who have had one or more children and were at least 25 years old when the IUD was inserted.
Among those women, copper IUDs seem to be effective birth control for at least nine years, depending on the brand. ParaGard, a copper IUD recommended for up to 10 years, is effective for at least 12.
Mirena, a plastic IUD which releases the hormone levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy, is advertised as effective for five years, but is effective for at least seven years, according to the review published in the journal Contraception.
For women who were at least 35 when the IUD was placed, studies indicate ParaGard remains effective until menopause.
There were not enough studies of women under age 25 to determine how long Mirena and ParaGard are effective beyond recommendations in that group, the researchers said.
Extended use of an IUD among women over 25 who have had a child ultimately reduces costs, improves convenience and extends birth control benefits, Wu said.
Image: IUD, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
The Supreme Court case that will be heard March 25, which will examine religious objections to the provision of the Obamacare legislation that mandates coverage of birth control, may turn on testimony about the science of contraception–chiefly whether various birth control methods prevent an egg from being fertilized, or destroy an already-fertilized embryo. More from Reuters:
After decades of research the answer is not absolutely clear.
Two family-owned companies, Oklahoma-based arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, controlled by evangelical Christians, and Pennsylvania-based cabinet-manufacturer Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp, owned by Mennonites, object on religious grounds to a requirement of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law: that employer-sponsored insurance cover contraception.
The companies say they have no objection to covering forms of birth control that prevent conception, the fertilization of an egg by a sperm.
What concerns them are after-intercourse products, so-called emergency contraception such as the “morning-after” pill, which prevent pregnancy.
Anti-abortion groups contend the products act after fertilization, destroying embryos.
“For us, the issue is the life-ending mechanisms that some emergency contraceptives can have,” said Anna Franzonello, an attorney at Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion legal group that has filed a brief for seven Catholic and other anti-abortion groups siding with the companies.
Mainstream scientific and medical organizations, as well as abortion-rights supporters, counter by citing research showing that the vast majority of emergency contraceptives prevent fertilization.
While the Supreme Court will not be ruling on the science, and has never defined pregnancy, many groups have filed friend-of-the-court briefs offering their view of how emergency contraceptives work.
Image: Birth control pills, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
The birth control medication known as the “morning-after pill” will soon be available without a prescription to women age 15 and older, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday. More from CNN.com:
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This move comes just weeks after a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, ordered the FDA to make the morning-after birth control pill available to women of any age, without a prescription. Tuesday’s FDA announcement, which pertains to an application from Teva Women’s Health, Inc., is not related to that, the FDA said.
“The FDA’s approval of Teva’s current application for Plan B One-Step is independent of that litigation and this decision is not intended to address the judge’s ruling,” the FDA said in a statement.
In early April, the U.S. Justice Department indicated an appeal of the Brooklyn judge’s order was under consideration. “The Department of Justice is reviewing the appellate options and expects to act promptly,” department spokeswoman Allison Price said.
According to the new FDA decision, Plan B One-Step will now be labeled to reflect that proof of age is required to purchase it, and it cannot be sold where age cannot be verified. The packaging will include a product code that prompts the cashier to ask and verify the age of the customer.
The product will be available in retail outlets with pharmacies, but the pill can be sold during non-pharmacy hours, too.
“While we fully support this expansion of access to birth control, we continue to believe that the administration should lift all unnecessary restrictions to emergency contraception, consistent with the prevailing science and medicine,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said Tuesday in a statement.
The FDA decision does not pertain to the two other emergency contraceptive drugs marketed in the United States. Plan B is available from generic manufacturers over-the-counter for women 17 and older and Ella is available by prescription only, for all ages, and prevents pregnancy within five days of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.
Thursday, April 11th, 2013
A new research study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology has found that intrauterine devices, or IUDs, are safe and effective for teenage girls. The findings are based on analysis of more than 90,000 women who used the contraceptive device. More from Reuters:
Researchers found less than 1 percent of all women developed serious complications from the devices, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, regardless of their age.
And teens were only slightly more likely than older women to lose their periods or become pregnant while using an intrauterine device (IUD), according to findings published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
“It shows exactly what many of us have thought all along, that IUDs are great options for teens,” said James Trussell, who studies birth control methods at Princeton University in New Jersey.
IUDs include the hormone-releasing Mirena, which can prevent pregnancy for five years, and a copper version, sold as ParaGard, which is effective for 10 years. The devices cost a few hundred dollars each, not including doctors’ charges for inserting them.
Evidence has been mounting that new IUDs are safe and effective in preventing pregnancy. But some doctors have been difficult to convince since an older and badly-designed version of the IUD, the Dalkon Shield, caused serious infections and even deaths in the 1970s.
In guidelines published last year, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said IUDs and contraceptive implants should now be considered one of the best birth control options for teens because they are reliable and reversible.
Image: Teenage girl and her doctor, via Shutterstock
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Friday, January 11th, 2013
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new intrauterine device (IUD), the first such new approval in 12 years, Reuters is reporting:
The T-shaped polyethylene device is designed to prevent pregnancy for 3 years, during which time it releases a diminishing dosage of progestin, according to Bayer documents.
The proportion of women using long-acting reversible contraceptive methods such as an intrauterine device (IUD) climbed to 7.7 percent in 2009 up from 2.0 percent in 2002, according a 2012 study by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health and rights organization based in New York.
The highest level of use was among women aged 25-39 and those who already had at least one child.
The IUD, called Skyla, is aimed at younger women who have not had children. During a trial of 1,432 women aged 18 to 35 years, the rate of pregnancy over a three-year period was 0.9 per 100 women, and 77 percent of women wishing to become pregnant did so within 12 months of its removal, Bayer documents said.
“Over half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended and there’s just a need out there to have effective birth control,” said Pamela Cyrus, Bayer’s head of medical affairs said in an interview.
Image: Woman talking to her doctor, via Shutterstock
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