Implant birth control more effective: Study

QMI Agency


The quick and easy birth control methods most commonly used by women - including the Pill - aren't nearly as effective as implant contraceptives available, a new study has found.

Women who use birth control pills, the patch or a vaginal ring were 20 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than those using an IUD or implant, said researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Short-term contraceptive methods rely on women remembering to take them or replace them regularly, whereas IUDs and implants are more effective because "women can forget about them after clinicians put the devices in place," said Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, co-author of the study that appears Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study included the habits of more than 7,500 women aged 14 to 45 at "high risk of unintended pregnancy." The women were sexually active or planned to be in the next six months, but did not want to get pregnant in the next year.

Of 334 pregnancies over the course of the three-year study, 4.55% were women using the Pill, the patch or the ring, compared with 0.27% using IUDs and implants.

The researchers point out that the longer-acting birth control devices are expensive - $500 and upwards - which likely explains why far fewer women use them, but they are "far superior."

"If there were a drug for cancer, heart disease or diabetes that was 20 times more effective, we would recommend it first," said lead author Dr. Brooke Winner.