Intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants should be given to adolescents who are sexually active as a reliable method of birth control, as recommended by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College).

An IUD is a long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). There are two types available in the U.S. – a non-hormonal copper IUD called ParaGard and a hormonal IUD, Mirena. In the UK, 10 different forms of copper IUDs are available

Copper IUDs are T-shaped, which helps to hold the device in place near the top of the uterus. They work by stopping sperm movement, making it impossible for them to combine with an egg. These IUDs are basically natural spermicides.

Hormonal IUDs (Mirena) reduce and/or prevent bleeding during menstrual cycles, unlike the copper ones which increase bleeding.

A 2011 study said that IUDs may reduce the risk of cervical cancer. According to the recent report, around 42% of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 from the U.S. are sexually active, and IUD and implants are the most successful contraceptives for avoiding abortion and unwanted pregnancies.

Most teens who are having sex use birth control methods that are sometimes not effective, such as withdrawal, which is dangerous, and condoms that may break. Birth control pills are safe contraceptives, however, many adolescents take them incorrectly, i.e., not every day.

8 out of every 10 pregnancies that occur among teens are not planned, which highlights the important need for effective and reliable contraceptives.

In May of 2012, a study involving 334 women was published in New England Journal of Medicine. 156 of these women became pregnant due to failed contraception -133 on the pill, patch or ring, and only 21 using IUDs, indicating that IUDs are far superior to any other method of birth control.

IUDs and implants have pregnancy rates of less than 1% per year, meaning that they are extremely effective. In addition, most patients who use these methods are happy with their experiences and continue to use them.

Adolescents may prefer IUDs and implants because unlike the pill, which has to be taken every day, they are long-lasting and take away the risk of unplanned pregnancy. The College says that IUDs and implants can be used right after a woman has a baby or gets an abortion, with no risk factors. Bad outcomes are very rare with these types of contraceptives.

The experts note that condoms should still be worn even if a teen is using IUDs or implants, because they do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Written by Christine Kearney