The most effective birth control options are intrauterine devices (IUDs) and progestin implants. Yet, on college campuses, condoms reign as the most popular form of birth control, followed by the pill and the withdrawal method.


Lingering myths

You can’t have an IUD if you haven’t had a child.

Health care providers once advised against IUDs for young women who had not given birth. This is no longer a restriction.

IUDs are too large for some young women.

Though at one point this was true, newer IUDs are very small.



IUDs and implants do not protect women from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Whereas 98 percent of campus health services provide birth control pills, only 40 percent provide the implant or IUDs.

Short-term vs. long-term cost

Implants and IUDs require a procedure, not just a consultation and a prescription. Generally, a medical exam and insertion can cost several hundred dollars to $1,000.

Despite the price, IUDs are the most cost-effective birth control method. The non-hormonal IUD Paragard is good for 10 years, and you’re not paying $20 per month for birth control pills.

Birth control implants, which last three years, are generally cheaper than IUDs. They’re typically a couple hundred dollars, but can run as high as $800, including insertion.

Side effects

Compared to birth control pills, there are fewer or milder side effects with IUDs and implants. Menstrual periods can become much lighter when using an implant or hormonal IUD, and for some women, periods disappear altogether.

Because the hormones released by some IUDs stay locally in the uterus, you won’t experience the same side effects as taking the pill, such as changes in mood and breast tenderness.

Copper IUDs such as Paragard can increase menstrual pain and flow, especially in the first year of use.

Hormone-releasing IUDs, such as Mirena and Skyla, can cause spotting or irregular bleeding, especially in the first six months of use.

Original story by Jill U. Adams for The Washington Post.

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