Women who opt for intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants as birth control may be able to use the contraceptives longer -- and with the same effectiveness -- than the recommended end date, according to a new study.
The research, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, confirms that three types of hormonal IUDs and implants (Mirena, Implanon, and Nexplanon) can last a year longer than what is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
An IUD (like Mirena) is a small T-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted directly into the uterus for up to five years; implants (like Implanon and Nexplanon) are matchstick-sized plastic rods that are inserted into the arm for up to three years.
"Both implants and IUDs work by releasing small doses of a synthetic version of the female sex hormone progestin, which keeps ovaries from releasing eggs," notes CBS News. "There's only a certain amount of a progestin available in these devices, which is why the FDA sets an expiration date."
By extending the lifetime of these devices, women and health care companies could save money, but manufacturers may be reluctant to endorse extensions that could cause them to sell fewer contraceptives.
Researchers followed 800 women between the ages of 18 and 45, which included 263 women with IUDs and 237 with implants. The women were examined for one year after their device expired. "There were no pregnancies in the implant group and only one pregnancy in the IUD group, a failure rate similar to that of hormonal IUDs within the approved five years of use," reports Health Day.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her adorable baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
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Image: Woman holding IUD via Shutterstock