The best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions, a study finds, is to implant birth control into women's bodies.
The Contraceptive Choice Project
, which aims to enroll 10,000 women and girls in St. Louis city and county, is a project of Washington University. Participants -- more than 8,500 so far -- get free birth control and STD testing and treatment for two years.
And a piece in the Post-Dispatch
reports that one of the Wash. U. researchers, Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, said in the New England Journal of Medicine that they've found intrauterine devices (IUDs) and under-the-skin implants are the most effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies.
The researchers have been looking at data for four years already. They
crunched numbers on teen pregnancy and repeat abortions, which are seen
as reliable indicators on unwanted pregnancy. Both have declined
slightly in the city since the study began.
Most women choose
birth control pills for contraception, which are highly effective if
taken perfectly. But the reality is that most women don't take them
perfectly. Methods like implants and IUDs don't require any action on
the part of the person using them after they're in place -- they're called
IUDs in particular have had a
public-relations problem in the U.S. for a long time. Early devices in
the 1970s had some gruesome faults -- they caused infections and uterine
punctures. But today's devices don't have those problems. And while they're
initially expensive -- $500 to $1,000 -- they can last for up to 12
years, so they're cost-effective over time.
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