Canadian Doctors Now Recommend IUDs — Not The Pill — As The Best Contraception For Teen Girls

The Canadian Pediatric Society is advising doctors to recommend IUDs above other forms of birth control.

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Teen girls. Canadian doctors are now recommending IUDs for young women.
Photo, PeopleImages/Getty.

For many young women, going on the pill is as meaningful a milestone as their first kiss or zit or licensed joy ride. But according to a new statement from the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS), intrauterine devices (or IUDs) are the most effective form of birth control and should be recommended above all other contraceptive methods by doctors.

The statement — released Thursday, and a first from the CPS — was intended to act as a counterpoint to any persistent myths about the safety of IUDs, which, for those who aren’t acquainted, are T-shaped devices that are inserted into the uterus by a doctor and use copper or hormones to prevent pregnancy. And, unlike the pill, they last for years.

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Reluctance to use the IUD can be traced back to the the ’70s: An earlier iteration (called the Dalkon Shield) was linked to a heightened risk of sepsis, owing to the device’s multifilament string, which dropped down into the cervix and acted, in some cases, as a conduit for dangerous bacteria, increasing the risk of infections. Nowadays, resistance to the method comes largely from “creeped out” parents, said Dr. Giosi Di Meglio, the statement’s author.

But Di Meglio’s findings aren’t just a sign of our increasingly liberal times: The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) also published guidelines in 2016 that recommend IUDs as the birth-control option for all women, and recommend that doctors not deviate from that recommendation because of “theoretical or unproven risks.”

It’s easy to see why both the CPS and SOGC recommend IUDs above other methods: They offer the least risk of unwanted pregnancy. Even with perfect use, about nine in 100 women will become pregnant while on the pill, on the patch or while using the ring. With IUDs, the rate is less than one in 100. “We should be talking about them first,” says Di Meglio. Which is basically the medical equivalent of “tell your friends.”