On September 20, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reported:
Implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs) should be offered as first-line contraceptive options for sexually active adolescents, according to new guidelines issued today by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College). Both the implant and the IUD are the most effective reversible contraceptives for preventing unintended pregnancy and abortion in teens and adult women.
The article continued, giving multiple reasons for The College’s recommendation:
About 42% of adolescent females ages 15–19 in the US have had sexual intercourse. … The fact that 8 out of every 10 adolescent pregnancies are unintended underscores the need for dependable and effective contraceptive methods for teens.
The article went on to describe the effectiveness of both the IUD and the implant, neglecting many important points. First, a major reason for the “effectiveness” of the implant and the IUD is not the devices’ ability to keep women from getting pregnant, but the devices’ ability to stop a new, unique human being from implanting in her mother’s womb.
ParaGuard, a manufacturer of the copper IUD states the following in its prescribing information:
Ideas about how ParaGard® works include preventing sperm from reaching the egg, preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg, and preventing the egg from attaching (implanting) in the uterus. ParaGard® does not stop your ovaries from making an egg (ovulating) each month.
It is also clear that the Mirena IUD does not typically stop ovulation in women, but instead acts to stop implantation.
Implanon, one brand of the contraceptive implant, also changes the endometrial lining – exactly the action that stops implantation.
Even aside from the major issue that The College is recommending birth control that can kill babies by stopping their implantation, it is a serious concern that they are recommending these types to young teens who are very unlikely to study out the risks and effects of IUDs and the implant for themselves.
Mirena’s full prescribing information reveals that up to half of the women who get pregnant on Mirena may experience an ectopic pregnancy. The FDA has even issued a warning letter to Bayer, Mirena’s manufacturer.
Implanon’s prescribing information specifically states that no clinical studies have been conducted in women under the age of 18. And yet The College – supposedly the nation’s experts – wholeheartedly recommends this contraception to teens.
Finally, it should also be concerning to teens and parents that The College is recommending birth control that is semi-permanent. IUDs can be removed, and so can implants, but each of these devices lasts for years at a time if allowed to remain in the body. During this entire time – while an adolescent girl’s body is still developing – The College would recommend flooding her system with unnecessary hormones, all for the purpose of not getting pregnant.
The bottom line? Parents and teens need to be educated about the true implications behind The College’s recommendation. Just because the experts say “use it” doesn’t make it safe – for teen girls or their babies.