Implantable Birth Control Most Effective, Wash. U. Study Finds

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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 "forgettable" methods.

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.

Check the full story out here.

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