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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Monday, September 9th, 2013
Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both federal agencies, have released new data confirming that the number of babies born to teenaged mothers has dropped by 6 percentage points to 29.4 births per thousand in 2012–the lowest number since the agencies started collecting this data 73 years ago. The decline was across all racial and ethnic groups, and analysts attribute much of the drop to more women using effective birth control methods. More from NBC News:
The 2012 number is “a considerable one year drop,” says pediatrician Dr. John Santelli, a professor of population and family health at Columbia University who has no connection to the study. And it follows fairly sizable declines since 2007, when the rate was 41.5 births per thousand young women ages 15 to 19. In fact, except for a small uptick between 2005 and 2007, the teen birth rate has been steadily declining since 1991, when it reached 61.8 births per thousand.
“Our data comes from the birth certificate that parents complete at the hospital and it provides a wealth of information,” says Brady E. Hamilton, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics and the lead author of the report. But to figure out why the teen birth rate is falling, “we have to rely on other sources,” Hamilton says, such as surveys that the CDC conducts of high schoolers.
Santelli has studied those and other survey results. “There is not much evidence of a change in abortion use and not much change in sexual activity” since 2003, says Santelli. For example, the percentage of high school kids reporting ever having sexual intercourse was about 54 percent in 1991, according to the CDC survey, declined through 2002, and then held steady at about 47 percent through 2011, the last year of available data.
“What we have seen is greater availability of much more effective birth control methods,” says Santelli. While condom use increased substantially in the 1990s and early 2000s among high schoolers, it actually declined slightly after that, according to the CDC survey. At the same time, medical professionals have increasingly been recommending the IUD, a small, plastic device that is inserted and left inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy, says Santelli. While it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, it can be used in combination with a condom, which does offer such protection.
“Young people sometimes use condoms incorrectly, and sometimes they forget to use condoms,” says Santelli. “There is almost zero user error with the IUD. Once it is in place, it works every time.”
Image: Teenage couple, via Shutterstock
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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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