Blog Post

Are IUD's Good for Teens?

iudIn spite of a recent statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics which recommends IUD's to teens rather than birth control pills, at least one high-profile OB-GYN says he'd never allow his daughter to use this device.

In an op-ed published on Fox News.com, Dr. Manny Alvarez, an OB-GYN who serves as Fox News' Senior Managing Editor for Health News says he does not agree with a recent recommendation from his peers that asks pediatricians to begin recommending IUD's and progestin implants to teen girls rather than birth control pills.

Alvarez, who is a high-risk OB-GYN, says "I don’t think they have all the potential facts about complications that may develop— especially in the field of infertility— to advise correctly on this matter."

And speaking as a father, he would never make such a recommendation to his daughter.  "The best type of contraception to recommend to a teenager is abstinence. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you look at teen birth rates over the past five years, you will find a steady decline. The trend is not because teens are using more IUDs, but rather because these young women— through education— are empowering themselves to make the right choices."

Teens and parents who are considering this type of contraceptive need to take a close look at the fine print before allow this small metal or plastic device to be implanted. For instance, side effects that he describes as "very common" include cramping and a heavier menstrual flow, but could also include an infection known as pelvic inflammatory disease which ultimately renders a woman infertile.

The CDC also warns that women who use an IUD not have multiple partners. "While an IUD is effective in preventing a pregnancy, it does not prevent any type of STDs, which data shows continue to be on the rise," Alvarez warns and cites increases in cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes in the teen and young adult age group.

"So, from a scientific point of view, I understand that long-term contraception like an IUD will prevent pregnancy in teens, but as a father, I cannot see a young 16- or 17-year-old girl making such a difficult decision in choosing the right birth control method in which she can fully understand all of the potential complications she may encounter."

Instead, he believes that "Rather than pushing for IUDs, as physicians, we should be pushing for more sexual education information from professionals and parents."

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