Dr Manny Alvarez, one of the house doctors for Fox News, had a useful piece the other day on teen birth control, in particular IUDs. He’s basically spring-loaded against them for teenage girls, for a number of reasons.
Very common side effects of placing this foreign object inside the womb include cramping, spotting, heavy menstrual flow and possibly even an infection that could lead to a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease, ultimately rendering the individual infertile.
Not to mention, uterine perforation—although extremely rare….
Rather than IUDs, Alvarez pushed for more sexual education information from (and for, say I) parents and physicians.
This is a right step, but I think there’s another aspect to IUD use that’s overlooked. Pregnancy is a serious thing that disrupts and alters lives and is the creation of a new one, and pregnancy does this whether it’s wanted or accidental.
An IUD, leaving aside its side effects, is a fire-and-forget device: by design, it’s intended to block pregnancy for a long time, so the woman and her partner don’t have to think about it while they’re being sexually active. This is fine for adults.
However, the teen years are where habits are being set on matters regarding sex and the outcomes of sex. It’s useful, then—it’s actively beneficial—for the teen girl to think about this more than on just the single occasion of getting the IUD installed. She’ll form better habits regarding safe sex (including STDs, even though birth control, per se, does nothing to counter these) if she’s encouraged to think about it more often, at the least on the occasion of taking her daily birth control pill.
The same habit benefit accrues to the each time use of a condom by the boy, even if the condom isn’t as effective as a birth control pill.