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Doctors Should Recommend Long-Acting Contraceptives for Teens, ACOG Says in Guidance

Doctors Should Recommend Long-Acting Contraceptives for Teens, ACOG Says in Guidance

September 21, 2012 — Doctors should recommend long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as intrauterine devices and hormonal implants, to teens who want to avoid pregnancy, according to new guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The group said long-acting methods should be "first-line recommendations" for teens because they are safe and nearly 100% effective at preventing pregnancy. IUDs are effective for up to 10 years, while implants last about three years. Although oral contraceptives are the most popular method, they must be taken daily for maximum effectiveness.

ACOG's guidelines go further than previous recommendations by stating that doctors should discuss both IUDs and implants with sexually active teens at every office visit. Condoms should still be used during every sexual encounter because they are the only method that also protects against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, ACOG noted.

Teens might be reluctant to use IUDs and implants because a doctor must insert the devices and the upfront cost is higher than for birth control pills, the AP/Chronicle notes.

Doctors should provide detailed information and dispel any myths about the contraceptives so that teens can make informed choices, said Tina Raine-Bennett, head of the ACOG recommendation committee and research director for women's health at Kaiser Permanente (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/20).