Dr. Frederick Rau used to prescribe what's commonly known as "the pill" to teens needing birth control, but he and other gynecologists found problems with that age group using the oral contraceptive.
"You have to remember to take it every day. If you don't take it, there is a chance of unintended pregnancy," said Rau.
Teen forgetfulness is one of the main reasons why the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends teens consider an intrauterine device, or IUD, instead of the birth control pill. The AAP updated its policy on teen pregancy prevention on Monday.
"It's one of the things that as a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist, that we've talked about this for several years at our national meetings," said Rau. "The new data about IUDs in teenagers is very reassuring. It's safe and effective."
But for many parents, a teen on the pill is hard to swallow, let alone an IUD, which requires a medical procedure to install and lasts anywhere from three to ten years.
"One of the major concerns is return to fertility and if you look at teenagers who use IUDs, there's a normal return to fertility," said Rau, who said an increasing amount of data proves that.
In the short term, Rau said IUDs have a high success rate at preventing teen pregnancy, which is why Planned Parenthood of Southern New England supports the AAP recommendation. In a statement released to FOX CT, Jenny Carillo, senior vice president of PPSNE, said the policy change "makes good sense...when using LARCs [Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives] accurately, the percentage of unintended pregnancies is less than one percent."
Rau said many of his Hartford teen patients have used IUDs for years and that Monday's recommendation is a good way to start a national conversation.
"The dialogue needs to start early and I think it's important for adolescents to know that the Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives are a good choice," Rau said. "You don't have to be motivated, for instance, to take a birth control pill every day."
Rau suggests this website for more information about contraceptives for teens.
The AAP policy change can be found here.