Paediatricians should offer intrauterine contraception methods as first-line birth control options for young people, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) said Thursday in a new position statement.
For Regina-based Dr. Deborah Seibel, the decision is a no-brainer.
After thirty-five years inserting intrauterine devices (IUD), she likes to call back to an old ad that sums it up nicely.
“So, somebody comes into your office wanting birth control, why are you giving them the birth control pill when there’s something that is 20 times better?”
The small but mighty t-shaped IUD is effective for up to five years once inserted, with undeniable effectiveness.
“The birth control pill has 90 pregnancies in 1,000 women every year – because you have to remember it,” Seibel. “The hormone IUD is actually better than any other method of birth control we have, with the exception of vasectomy.”
But until recently, some practitioners had some concerns about how safe it was for young women.
“Long-acting reversible contraception is a really effective and safe way to provide contraception,” Dr. Giosi Di Meglio, member of the CPS Adolescent Health Committee said. “In Canada, the only long-acting reversible contraception that we currently have is the intrauterine system (IUS) and the intrauterine devices (IUD), but providers are often under the misperception that they’re not safe to use in teenagers and we’re trying to get the message out that they are safe to use with teenagers.”
According to Siebel and Di Meglio, the perception dates back decades when there was some fear IUDs could cause pelvic inflammation and infertility in women.
“Our previous belief that IUDs would increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections becoming really severe turned out not to be true,” Di Meglio added.
Now it’s being endorsed as the best option for Canadian youth – but one of the biggest barriers that remains is a financial one. Copper IUDs start at $80, and hormone IUDs can run as high as $380.
Nevertheless, the device’s popularity is on the rise in Regina.
Planned Parenthood has seen a jump of 225 IUD-related appointments in the last year.
“In one day about two weeks ago we had eight IUDs in a day,”Executive Director Shelley Svedahl said. “Usually we’re averaging about four.”
The CPS statement also advises that providers:
- Discuss sexual health, fertility, family planning and contraception with all youth starting early in adolescence, preferably before they become sexually active
- Have a collaborative approach that empowers youth to makes informed decisions about their birth control options
- Encourage youth to always use condoms, regardless of the method of birth control they use, to prevent sexually transmitted infections
- Inform youth about emergency contraception as back-up methods of preventing pregnancy
Planned Parenthood has extended its hours three days a week to better serve young people, and plans to hold information sessions on IUDs at the Regina Public Radio.
With files from Dani-Elle Dubé