By Rita Rubin
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Oct. 18, 2012 -- While the use of long-acting intrauterine devices (IUDs) is increasing, 1 in 9 women at risk for unintended pregnancies is not using any birth control, according to a new government report.
Researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the CDC, analyzed data from more than 12,000 women aged 15 to 44. They compared that information with data collected from nearly 11,000 women in 1995.
Nearly two-thirds, or 62%, of women of reproductive age use contraception, with the pill preferred by 28% of women and female sterilization the choice of 27%, almost exactly the same proportions as in 1995.
Use of IUDs rose to 5.6%, seven times the .8% in 1995, an increase that James Trussell, PhD, calls "striking." Trussell is a faculty associate at Princeton University's Office of Population Research. He was not involved in the study.
Earlier this month, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on Adolescent Health Care took a step toward clearing up the misconception that only women who've delivered children can use an IUD. The committee published an opinion paper concluding that teens, who are at high risk of unintended pregnancy, might benefit from greater access to long-acting reversible contraceptives, namely IUDs and contraceptive implants. The implants, tiny hormone-releasing rods inserted under the skin of the arm, are more than 99% effective and can be left in place for three years.
Teens Turning to More Effective Birth Control
Teens increasingly have turned to hormonal contraceptives such as the pill and away from condoms, the new report shows. Since 1995, there was a 45% decline in the use of condoms as the main form of birth control by young women 15 to 19 years old, researchers found. That change, along with the increased use of contraceptives the first time they have intercourse, and using more than one method at a time, such as the pill and condoms, have been credited with the recent decline in teen birth rates, the researchers write.
"One of the things that I was struck with was the adoption of the newer methods of birth control by the younger women and women of color," says researcher Jo Jones, PhD, a statistician and demographer at the National Center for Health Statistics. Since 1990, a number of new hormonal methods have become available. These include NuvaRing, a vaginal ring left in place for three weeks and then removed for a week, and Ortho Evra, a patch that is placed on the skin and changed weekly.
Use of IUDs and implants might continue to supplant condoms and other less-effective birth control methods, says Lawrence Finer, PhD, director of domestic research at the Guttmacher Institute, which performs research, policy analysis, and public education focused on sexual and reproductive health. "It's possible we're seeing the start of a transition here toward these more effective long-acting methods," Finer says.
In the current issue of Fertility & Sterility, Finer and his colleagues published a separate analysis of data collected in 2007-2009. Their study found that among women using birth control, the proportion who opted for an IUD or implant increased from 2.4% in 2002 to 8.5% in 2009.
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