Young women don’t know about the IUD as emergency contraception


Credit: Maya Blum

When a patient seeks emergency contraception (EC), it offers an opportunity to prevent an unwanted pregnancy as well as offer options for ongoing birth control. A copper IUD offers both a more effective form of EC and ongoing pregnancy prevention, but patients and providers are missing opportunities to talk about and provide this option.

New research from the Bixby Center and Planned Parenthood shows that very few young women had heard of using the IUD as a form of emergency contraception. Most of them reported that they would be interested in knowing about the option to use an IUD as EC in addition to hearing about EC pills, especially those who said they would be very unhappy if they became pregnant in the next year.

The study highlighted the importance of the healthcare provider’s role. Most young women reported that a doctor or nurse is their most trusted source of information on emergency contraception. However, discussion of this option isn’t widespread, with research showing that only 16% of ob/gyns nationally reported ever providing an IUD for emergency contraception.

The provider visit is an important time to offer counseling on the full range of contraceptive options. Providers should be well versed in the range of EC methods and their advantages, and provide that information while focusing on the patient’s priorities.