Healthy Living

Long-Acting Contraceptives Recommended for Teens

Dec. 18, 2014
Condoms and birth control pills may be the most recognizable methods of contraception. But recent studies show that long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as intrauterine devices and progestin implants, are actually the most effective method of preventing teen pregnancy.
three teenage girls
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently made LARCs their official recommendation for teens seeking birth control.
With Rochester’s teen pregnancy rate among the highest in the country, local physicians, nurses, and coordinators at the Hoekelman Center at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital recently launched a campaign to educate providers on the advantages of LARCs.
Drs. Andrew Aligne and Katherine Greenberg offer tips on why LARCs are the best birth control option for teens.
LARCs are:
  • Most effective. Women using LARCs reported unintended pregnancies just 1 percent of the time in the first year of use, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics. By comparison, women using condoms as their primary form of birth control reported unintended pregnancies 18-21 percent of the time, suggesting that they are not always being properly used.
  • Convenient. Daily birth control regimens require women to take a pill every day. This might lead to some gaps when they are forgotten—9 percent of women reported unintended pregnancies in the first year of taking birth control pills. LARCs can remain in place for 3-12 years, depending on the device.
  • Easily removed. If a woman decides she wants to attempt to get pregnant, LARCs can be removed with no lingering effects, allowing a woman to get pregnant shortly thereafter, possibly even within days.
  • Safe. While some myths persist about the potential side effects, LARCs have long been ruled safe for use for both teens and adults. However, LARCs do not protect from sexually-transmitted diseases, and users should take other precautions to protect themselves from STDs.
Andrew Aligne, M.D., is a community health expert and executive director of the Hoekelman Center at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital. 
Katherine Greenberg, M.D., is an assistant professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Adolescent Medicine.