IUD Birth Control for Teenagers

Intrauterine device (IUD) and Nexplanon are birth control options that can be used by teenagers. These devices are inserted into the uterus by a physician and can stay in place for several years. Teenagers have been using IUDs for years, and safety and effectiveness are established. The doctor can also remove an IUD or Nexplanon when you don't want to use this form of birth control anymore.

Woman holding IUD
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What Doctors Are Suggesting

Every year in the United States, approximately 750,000 teenagers become pregnant, and most of these pregnancies are not planned. Teenagers often report inconsistent use of birth control and are more likely to continue using long-acting contraceptive methods, such as IUD or Nexplanon.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Nexplanon and IUD birth control use can be beneficial for teenagers.

Surveys show that teenagers in the United States know very little about IUDs.

But teenagers who are aware of IUDs and how they work consider the following to be advantages of using them:

  • Did not harm later fertility
  • Did not require daily usage
  • Was not needed with each sex act
  • Was discreet

Teenagers need to be educated on the high effectiveness of long-acting reversible contraceptive methods like IUD birth control, as well as Nexplanon.

IUD Birth Control Use in Teenagers

ParaGard, Skyla, Kyleena, and Mirena—these IUDs are classified under Category 2 of the U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use. This means that the benefits of using these contraceptive methods generally outweigh the risks. IUD use has received a 2 classification because of the risk of expulsion—when the IUD partially or completely slides out of the uterus.

The use of Nexplanon in teenagers has received a classification of Category 1—this means that there is no restriction on the use of the birth control method.

What the Research Says

There is currently very little literature about Nexplanon or IUD birth control use in the teenage population. That being said, some studies do exist, and their results are promising.

Maintaining Use

Teenagers are more likely to continue with IUD birth control use than with other methods. Teenagers continue their IUD use at the same rate or even longer than teenagers who use birth control pills.

The number of teenagers who are still using the IUD at 1 year is high (ranging from 48 percent to 88 percent), and their IUD use slightly decreased over time.

Pregnancy

Pregnancies are also uncommon among teenage IUD birth control users. One study comparing teenage pregnancy rates found that (after 24 months of continuous use), teens using the copper IUD (ParaGard) had reported no pregnancies, while three percent of teenage birth control pill users became pregnant. Another study found that teen pregnancy rates rose from two percent after six months of IUD use to 11 percent at 48 months of being on the IUD.

Device Expulsion

An in-depth review looking into IUD use in teenagers found that expulsion rates ranged widely—from five percent to 22 percent and the available research shows inconsistent results.

The rates seem to be affected by your age and whether or not you have ever been pregnant. For example, some studies reveal that women who have never given birth have more instances of IUD expulsion, while other studies suggest that those who have given birth report higher rates of expulsion.

Discomfort

One last concern that research has revealed about IUD birth control use in teenagers is pain. Studies have shown that painful or difficult IUD insertion is a major concern for teenagers. Newer IUDs Iike Skyla and Kyleena have smaller insertion tubes, so insertion pain may be less of a concern with these options.

Research has also shown that pain and bleeding are frequent reasons for teenagers to have their ParaGard IUD removed. One study highlighted how more teenage IUD users complained of bleeding issues than did teenage pill users.

Research on Teenage Nexplanon Use Is Sparse

In 2010, a study included 137 teenagers (ages 12–18 years old) who had just given birth. It compared tolerance, continuation, and repeat pregnancy rates in teens who used Implanon (a device that's similar to Nexplanon), combination birth control pills, Depo Provera, barrier methods (like condoms and spermicide), or nothing.

The researchers concluded that teenagers who decide to use Nexplanon are significantly less likely to become pregnant and were found to stick with this birth control method longer than those who chose the other contraceptive methods.

Implanon users were also more likely to continue using Implanon at 24 months than the teen pill/depo users. Of those teens who had it removed before 24 months of use, 40 percent said that abnormal bleeding was their reason for stopping.

Final Analysis

Even though the literature on Nexplanon and IUD birth control for teenagers is sparse, available studies do suggest that IUDs such as Mirena, Skyla, Kyleena, and ParaGard, as well as Nexplanon, are practical options for today’s teens. Encouraging teen use of long-acting reversible birth control methods could help decrease the number of unplanned teenage pregnancies. The high number of teens who stick to their Nexplanon and IUD use is promising, and teenagers are more likely to be compliant with these birth control methods.

The benefits and advantages of ParaGard, Mirena, Skyla, and/or Kyleena in teens typically offset the potential risks, and there are no restrictions on the use of Nexplanon in teenagers. The practice guidelines created by ACOG suggest that IUDs and Nexplanon should be suggested to teenagers as potential birth control options.

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Article Sources
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  1. Kaneshiro B, Aeby T. Long-term safety, efficacy, and patient acceptability of the intrauterine Copper T-380A contraceptive device. Int J Womens Health. 2010;2:211-20.  doi:10.2147/ijwh.s6914

  2. Lewis, L.N., Doherty, D.A., Hickey, M., & Skinner, S.R. “Implanon as a Contraceptive Choice for Teenage Mothers: A Comparison of Contraceptive Choices, Acceptability and Repeat Pregnancy.” Contraception. 2010. 81(5): 421-426.

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