Sometimes it seems like the only birth control option out there is the Pill (and obviously the condom, which should be worn no matter what). The thing is, though, that’s not true. There are other birth control options out there that may fit your lifestyle even better than the Pill does. The problem is, your doctor may not be telling you about them.
One of those options that doesn’t get discussed a lot is using an IUD. Never heard of it? Don’t feel silly – a lot of people haven’t and that’s because doctors don’t push IUDs as hard as they push the Pill. In fact, some gynecologists don’t even present IUD, or other forms of birth control, like a diaphragm, as options at all. I know my gynecologist never did – when I told her I was considering going on the Pill, she gave me more information about it, but never discussed what else I could use instead. And when I recently was considering going off the Pill, my doctor (a new one) didn’t even attempt to discuss what else I could use instead.
And my doctors aren’t the only ones holding out on me or anyone else. A new study is encouraging doctors to start presenting all of your birth control options, not just telling you about the Pill and condoms. As one study researcher, Dr. Susin Rubin, pointed out, “holding back on discussing the most effective pregnancy prevention methods doesn’t necessarily result in the best outcome for our teens and young people.” Dr. Susin Rubin speaks the truth, girls.
IUDs in particular are something that I think should be discussed a lot more. I mean, I didn’t even know what an IUD was until I started working at Gurl. I had never heard of it before! And it’s definitely a legitimate form of birth control. Studies have shown that IUDs are more effective at preventing pregnancy than other methods of birth control. Also, IUDs just seem a little bit more convenient. They’re a form of long-acting reversible contraception – an IUD is inserted into your uterus by a doctor and then can stay there for up to 10 years. Doesn’t that seem about a million times easier than remembering to take a pill at the same time every day?
Despite the fact that IUDs may be a better fit for some women, only about 8.5 percent of U.S. women and 3 percent of teens use them (our Gurl staffer Caitlin is one of them).
So if IUDs are so great, why aren’t doctors talking about them with their patients? For a while, doctors thought that they might reduce fertility or even increase the infection risk in teens. There are some women who should never use them, like women who get a lot of pelvic infections. Of course, IUDs don’t protect against STDs or STIs (only condoms can do that) and there are obviously some side effects. Also, IUDs are very expensive if not covered under your insurance.
But that doesn’t mean we should shy away from them. Birth control pills have their own list of risks and side effects, but a ton of us still use those. Also, recent studies have proven that IUDs are totally safe for teens.
I definitely agree that doctors need to start discussing IUDs and other birth control options more frequently. As a woman, you should know all of your options and be able to pick what’s best for you. We shouldn’t feel like the only choice we have is taking birth control pills. IUDs may not be for everyone, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be informed about them.
Do you use an IUD? Would you ever use one? Have you ever heard of IUDs before? What birth control do you use? Tell us in the comments.