The Popularity Of IUDs Says Something Awesome About Modern Sex
The results are in: Millennials are using IUDs and other long-lasting reversible contraceptives more than any other generation before them.
New data released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics found that use of long-lasting reversible contraceptives, including intrauterine devices, has "increased nearly fivefold in the last decade among women ages 15 to 44."
Among the women using this type of birth control, millennials are by far the quickest adopters: The group that uses IUDs and implants the most is women ages 25 to 34, at 11%. When we consider that in 1988, only 1.4% of women reported using LARCs, it's clear that the younger generation is serious about pursuing what might be the most effective birth control.
That should come as no surprise, seeing as millennials are more open to talking about sex than any generation before. And the rise of IUDs is proof that a climate in which we talk openly and honestly about sex can have a positive real-life impact on our sex lives.
A knowledge-based generation: Unsurprisingly, the high effectiveness of IUDs and implants has led many female women's health care professionals to turn to IUDs in their own lives. A study in the journal Contraception found that among 500 female providers, 42% used IUDs or implants, meaning your gynecologist is much more likely to use IUDs than the average woman. Why? Health care professionals are better informed about contraceptives than anyone else.
Millennials might be too. Since 2009, Planned Parenthood has seen a 91% increase in the use of IUDs and implants. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood Federation of America's senior director of medical services, tells Mic that IUDs and implants "are an especially good option for young women who want to delay starting their families for a few years, so they can be the best parents they can be."
And studies have shown that when young women are provided with accurate information about IUDs (provided free of cost), they tend to choose IUDs above all other birth control methods based on the facts.
The growing use of IUDs underscores just how much young people are in tune with sexual health and their many options more than previous generations. "They are looking anew at LARC and looking at them for the value they have," Mary Jane Minkin, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, told Time.
Talking matters: The heightened awareness of sexual health is thanks, in no small part, to the Internet and social media. Last month, New York Abortion Access Fund board member Alison Turkos live tweeted the process of having her IUD inserted.
Turkos said her reasoning for taking the procedure public: "I decided to live tweet my IUD insertion process because I wanted to reduce the stigma and shrine of secrecy around reproductive and sexual health and the experiences so many people have," she told the Huffington Post.
And reducing the stigma around sexual health means reducing the stigma around sex itself.
Birth control is about sex: Honest talks about birth control is a benefit of being able to speak so much more freely about sex, which is important for sexual health but also for pleasure.
Past studies have shown that greater comfort with communication about sex leads to better sexual satisfaction overall. And as indicated by surveys, when women worry less about unwanted pregnancy, they can get in the headspace of sex more. In the case of IUDs, once one is inserted, you don't feel it or think about it for the next three to 12 years.
"I think the current revival with more precise technology will draw our generation back onto the bandwagon," says Stephanie, 26, who has used a copper IUD since 2013. She said getting an IUD was a good opportunity to welcome conversations about birth control and anatomy in her relationship. Not to mention, she got a new, liberated perspective. "The IUD is so important — we have the opportunity to pick a contraception that is as easy as having a penis: There's nothing to it!" Stephanie says.
Millennials' increasing embrace of IUDs and implants is not only a result of the contraceptives' inarguable effectiveness and better insurance coverage — it's an indication of a generation ready to tackle harder questions with their health care providers and partners like.
By talking more openly about sex, we can make sex better and healthier for everyone.