As of this week, IUDs and implantable devices are almost unanimously the first-line recommendation for medical contraception in young women. According to an important new study that will appear in tomorrow's New England Journal of Medicine, more than 16 times more teenage women would choose these options over birth-control pills if given proper information and affordable access to all forms of medical contraception. That would dramatically lower rates of unplanned pregnancy and abortion, which cost the country billions of dollars every year.
Between 10 and 100 times more effective than birth-control pills, these two long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods are, by far, the most reliable and affordable options. They are more effective even than male or female sterilization (vasectomy or tubal ligation), which fail to prevent pregnancy 0.15 and 0.5 percent of the time, respectively. Of course, those procedures aren't on the table for young patients, but it's still interesting that a doctor could take a scalpel to a person's sex organs and render them still more likely to conceive than a person with a removable implant.
The United States has more teenage pregnancies than any other wealthy country, and the cost of that is around $11 billion every year─in the form of public assistance, care for infants more likely to suffer health problems, and income lost as a result of lower educational attainment and reduced earnings among children born to teenage mothers. So it's especially interesting that only about 4.5 percent of women 15 to 19-years-old currently use LARC. The reason for that became evident in the New England Journal of Medicine study.