In the Blog

IUD’s for everyone!

December 17th, 2014     by Jackie Mlotek     Comments

Illustration: Erin McPhee

A few weeks ago, a study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine that found when you give folks in depth information about birth control methods like intrauterine devices (IUD’s) that are long lasting, reversible, and super effective at preventing pregnancy, many youth and adults will be interested in it and pregnancy rates will plummet! In other news, water is wet.

IUD’s are small, T-shaped little pieces of plastic that are inserted into one’s uterus, and can be covered in copper, or contains the hormone progestin, both of which makes it 99% and 99.9% effective respectively at preventing pregnancy. IUD’s can also be used as emergency contraception. For some people, it is also a method that works for them since you don’t have to take a pill everyday, or change a patch every week. IUD’s do not protect against STI’s, but there are other methods like dental dams and internal/external condoms that folks can use.

Despite their long lasting cost saving potential, IUD’s can be difficult for folks to access due to the cost up front. In the long run, it is less expensive than other birth control methods like the pill, but depending on the kind of IUD one gets, it can be quite pricey. In Canada, the copper IUD can range from $50-$175, whereas the hormonal IUD can range from $340-$350. Hopefully, such studies will lead to some more coverage for these fees, if more and more people want to get them.

Another implication for consideration with this new study is parental involvement, especially for youth. In Canada you don’t need parental consent to access any birth control methods. In particular, IUD’s can be helpful if you don’t want your parent(s)/family members/guardians knowing you’re using birth control, for whatever reason, since there is no packaging. However, the associated fees could be a barrier, for teens especially, who may not be able to afford the IUD cost. Many sexual health clinics and the Bay Centre for Birth Control can offer IUD’s at a reduced rate, but the hormonal IUD is quite expensive at the moment.

Access is also an issue. Canada has freer policies regarding sexual health as procedures such as abortion have been legal for quite some time, but access can still remain problematic depending on where you are, such as is the issue currently in New Brunswick, where there are no free standing abortion clinics anymore. In Toronto and many other cities in Canada, there are a multitude of sexual health clinics, and places like Planned Parenthood Toronto and the Bay Centre for Birth Control, which offers sweet discounts. If one were living in smaller towns or rural areas, I would hope access to IUD’s and other birth control methods would be equal to cities, but sadly it often isn’t.

IUD’s can be a great method of birth control for lots of folks. Everyone is different, and everyone has their preferences of what works best for their body or what kinds of birth control methods they want to use, but opening this door for youth in a way that hasn’t been done before could be wonderful. I hope that this will mean something for a change in sex education, public policies that could potentially lower the costs of IUD’s, and maybe some public education or ads that could get folks to reconsider IUD’s.

IUD’s are also promising in their low environmental impact! Since both the copper and the hormonal IUD’s can last for 5 years, there’s a pretty low level of waste considering a lower level of packaging and discarding in comparison to other birth control methods.

Although this study was done in the U.S., it’ll be interesting to see how the recommendations play out in Canada. IUD’s are often not talked about when discussing birth control options with mainstream health care, so this study could open a lot of doors for youth!

To find out more about IUD’s and other birth control options check out:

Planned Parenthood Toronto: Fact Sheets Teen Health Source Scarleteen - Birth Control Bingo: Intrauterine Devices (IUD)

Tags: birth control, health, sexual health, youth


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