Giving Long-Acting Birth Control to Teens Works Great—If You Don’t Forget This One Thing

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-174193595/stock-photo-iud.html?src=kSYpZ-hz-MC5oEC_4qQtBg-1-7">Image Point FR</a>/Shutterstock

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


With effectiveness rates of close to 100 percent, intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants have long been hailed as a safe and easy way to reduce unintended pregnancies. But a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics sheds light on a downside to their increasing use: teens who use these long-acting birth control methods may avoid unintended pregnancies, but are also less likely to use condoms, placing them at increased risk for sexually transmitted infections.

The researchers called on doctors to specifically promote condom use as a way for patients to prevent STIs, no matter which contraceptive method they chose. “A clear need exists to incorporate messages about condom use specifically for sexually transmitted infection prevention,” they wrote.

The study examined the contraceptive methods of 2,288 sexually-active girls in high school, using data from a nationally representative 2013 survey. Only 1.8 percent of girls in the sample used an IUD or an implant, while 22 percent used the pill, and 41 percent used condoms. But those with IUDs or implants were 60 percent less likely to use condoms compared with their peers using the birth control pill, Depo-Provera injection, patch, or ring. They were also 2.6 times as likely as those on the pill to have more than one sexual partner, and almost twice as likely to have more than four partners. 

CDC data shows that the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives has increased nearly five-fold in the last ten years, and at least 5 percent of young women aged 15 to 24 currently use some form of long-acting, reversible contraceptive. At the same time, almost half of all new STD infections occur during that same age span, but using a condom dramatically reduces the risk of contracting nearly all of them—including chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, HIV, and HPV.

Teen girls who choose IUDs and implants “may no longer perceive a need for condoms even if they have multiple sexual partners,” the study’s authors wrote, often overlooking the risk of STIs, and the health benefits of condoms. Researchers concluded: “Improving dual protection among adolescents will be key to maximizing both pregnancy and STI prevention goals.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate