Pediatrician group recommends IUDs, implants for teens

New recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics consider long-acting reversible contraception, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and progestin implants, the “first-line contraceptive choices for adolescents.”

The pediatrician group made the recommendation given the contraceptives “efficacy, safety and ease of use.” But, the group said, pediatricians should also encourage the consistent and correct use of condoms for every sexual act.

“Every year, approximately 750,000 adolescents become pregnant, with more than 80 percent of these pregnancies unplanned, indicating an unmet need for effective contraception in this population,” according to the pediatrician group.

Nearly half of high school students in the U.S. report ever having had sexual intercourse, and condoms are the most frequently used form of contraceptive, according to the group.

In a survey, 52 percent of females reported condom use the last time they had sex. The use of more effective hormonal methods, including oral contraceptives and other hormonal methods, was lower – 31 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Use of highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptives was much lower, less than 5 percent, according to the pediatrician group.

IUDs are small T-shaped devices that doctors insert inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. The device can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years and has a failure rate of about 0.8 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An implant is a single, thin rod that is inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm. The rod releases progestin into the body for three years and has a failure rate of 0.05 percent, according to the CDC.

Oral contraceptives, taken daily, contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. They have a failure rate of about 9 percent. Male condoms can prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections but have a failure rate of about 18 percent, according to the CDC.

The last set of recommendations from the pediatrician group came in 2007.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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