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IUDs Most Cost-Effective Birth Control

Best Long-Range Option for Effectiveness and Wallet, Says Study

Types of IUDs continued...

These findings come as no surprise to contraception expert Mitchell D. Creinin, MD, an ob-gyn at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of its Family Planning and Research division.

"IUDs are incredibly safe, incredibly effective, and easy to use -- and a very inexpensive procedure in the long run," he tells WebMD. "They are extremely popular in other countries, but for whatever reason, not widely used in the U.S."

One possible explanation: Only about 20% of medical insurance companies cover the costs of IUDs. "What is truly asinine is the same insurance companies that will cover sterilization, an expensive procedure that requires time in the operating room, and other forms of contraception will not cover the costs of IUDs, which provide a greater or equal efficacy as most others," Creinin says.

Another: In the U.S., IUDs continue to have bad reputation that started some three decades ago, although in most developing countries, Creinin says, they are more widely prescribed than oral contraceptives or other birth control methods. And in several European countries, they are used by at least one in four women of reproductive age.

"Back in the 1960s, the pill became the most commonly used contraception method in the U.S., but in the late '60s, studies came out suggesting it causes heart attack and strokes, so women turned to the IUD," says Creinin. "It was during the sexual revolution and there were lots of (sexually transmitted) infections, and IUDs bore the brunt of bore brunt of the blame, when in reality it was that people were sleeping around a lot."

The final nail was a series of studies in the late 1970s finding that the pill didn't cause heart attack but raised its risk in women using them who were over 35 and also smoked. "People once again became comfortable with the pill and stopped using IUDs," says Crenin. "And they have never gone back."

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