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Unpopular birth control recommended over mainstays

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A national health organization found almost half of U.S. adolescents in their late teens have had sex, but less than five percent of female birth-control users in their late teens use the most effective method.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a Washington, D.C.-based organization of medical professionals, names long-acting reversible contraception as the preferred birth control method and now suggests doctors discuss it alongside short-acting contraception.

Short-acting contraceptive methods, such as condoms, patches and pills, are more popular.

This form of birth control is cheaper, more available and less invasive than the long-lasting methods, which are inserted by a doctor.

Users of long-lasting birth control, which includes contraceptive implants and intrauterine devices, or IUDs, face pregnancy rates of less than one percent a year, according to a report from the organization’s Committee on Adolescent Health Care dated for next month.

IUDs are small, T-shaped plastic pieces placed in the uterus and can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years. Implants are matchstick-size plastic rods placed under the skin of the upper arm. They can last three years, according to the Huffington Post.

The Post shows both devices cost hundreds of dollars, but some publicly-funded health clinics offer free or reduced-cost birth control. The new health reform law mandates health insurance plans cover birth control without co-payments.

Implants are matchstick-sized plastic rods placed in the arm and can last up to three years, according to the Post.

The report shows 42 percent of teenagers ages 15-19 have had sex, and a fifth of unintended pregnancies in the U.S. are from adolescents.

Unwanted pregnancies from short-lasting birth control is 22 times higher than ones from long-lasting methods.

Though overall long-lasting birth control use increased to 8.5 percent in 2009, more than tripling 2002’s popularity, only 4.5 percent of females in this age group use long-lasting birth control, usually IUDs, according to the report.

For some adolescents, using long-lasting birth control lacks privacy because they need to use a parent’s insurance to pay, according to the report.

In Florida, minors can buy birth control without their parents’ permission if they are married, a parent, is or was pregnant and have physician-determined health concerns, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which monitors sexual and reproductive laws.

However, short-lasting birth control fails more often and is properly repeatedly used less often than its counterpart. The report still suggests sexually active adolescents continue using condoms because IUDs and implants don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Fears about IUDs and implants dislodging, being unsafe for adolescents or causing infertility are unfounded, according to the report. It suggests doctors present both birth control methods to patients.

Dr. Sharon Byun, an assistant professor in the University of Florida Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of Gynecology, said the concerns over these methods originated with poorly made IUDs in the 1970s.

She said today’s IUDs are much safer and require minimal patient maintenance. Any risks with IUDs happen when they’re inserted.

Ryanne Doumet contributed to this article.

About Wade Millward

Wade is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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